Vondelpark – NYC Stuff & NYC Bags

Phenomenally good listening for the morning after the night before.

In a world awash with wall to wall coverage, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (just about hanging on) and a million blogs spouting hot air about what’s hot and what’s not, it was only a matter of time before bands decided to buck the trend. You’d think any up and coming band would give their eye teeth for exposure and coverage, you know, to connect with an audience, but not Vondelpark. Having created a stir last year with ‘California Analog Dream’, they were most notable for having no website, no MySpace, and giving no interviews. Even now they have a pretty minimal presence, although it doesn’t seem to be harming their chances.

On the contrary, the initial buzz along with favourable reviews of debut EP ‘Sauna’ rocketed them to the top of most ‘Bands To Watch’ lists, which is usually where hype catches up to reality. ‘NYC Stuff & NYC Bags’ is, however, an absorbing release, and goes a long way to proving that Lewis, Alex, and Matt may have some staying power. Opener ‘TV’ builds slowly, with snatches of vocals, samples, and chiming guitar slipping in and out, before some skittering drums kick in whereas ‘Feat B’ is far lazier, with hints of R’n’B in it’s structure and indecipherable, mangled lyrics. ‘Camels’ continues in this vein, while ‘Hipbone’ is more laid back and poignant with some echoing horns and synths over the central refrain of ‘You’ve got it going for you.’

It’s not hard to see where they take their influences from, and at times it’s tempting to think of their music as a mash up of various other successful artists. There are definite hints of chillwave and blisscore – I’m sure they’re fans of Washed Out – along with the looped and manipulated vocal samples that both James Blake and Jaime Woon have made so popular, but it’s the bleak soundscapes of The XX they have most in common with. It’s there in the drums of ‘TV’ and ‘Hipbone’, as well as the guitar of the former. Last track ‘Outro For NYC’ is even self-described as being like ‘travelling back from a club at 6am… only half-aware of where you are going,’ and it must be said, this would be phenomenally good listening for the morning after the night before. It’s lacks XX’s gloominess and bittersweet lyrics, but it’s still clearly come down music. That it is excellent is testament to their skills as producers and arrangers, and sure to bring about an end to their anonymity.

Tags: Reviews, EP Reviews

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