Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Record Review - The Vasco Era

The Vasco Era
The Vasco Era
ERA Records / Inertia

To be honest, two EPs and now three LPs in, I’m not sure where the Vasco Era can go, or indeed, what they’re all about anymore.  Where once they went about their business with reckless aural abandon, now they seem caged, desperate and lacklustre.  Gone is the raw power and mind-blowing scuzz and burn.  Gone, it seems, is the fun and the freedom they once clung to with an almost fiendish intensity.  Their third, eponymous record, sees the band a shadow of its former self, and given how good they used to be, this is a sad, sad thing.

It’s not to say The Vasco Era is a bad record, but it just lacks anything that makes you snort coffee out your nose and sit up straight, leaning across your desk to turn up the stereo, wondering what the hell is going on here and why haven’t you heard this before.  That’s how I used to feel when I’d put on their early EPs – Let It Burn (’04) and Miles (’05) – and, to a lesser extent, their debut LP, Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside, a record they laid down after signing (foolishly, in my opinion) with Universal and heading to San Francisco in 2007.

While there are some standout tracks on here – lead single, ‘Child Bearing Hips’ for example – for the most part, The Vasco Era borrows heavily from The Strokes and late ‘80s fuzz which is all well and good, but they don’t believe what they’re doing.  This record has come about after a fairly prolonged absence, frontman Sid O’Neil leaving the band for a year or so after the release of second record, Lucille, and as such, they don’t seem as cohesive as they used to.  And that’s the kicker, because they didn’t used to be that cohesive; their appeal was their scruffy, no-frills attack, and that isn’t here at all – or if it is, it’s buried under far too much polish and production.  This album is just not very good.  At least, not for The Vasco Era.

Samuel J. Fell

Published in November issue of Rhythms Magazine

The Vasco Era is available now through Inertia

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