Victory at Sea – All Your Things Are Gone

Victory at Sea
All Your Things Are Gone

Boston’s Victory at Sea has been at it for years. The band has undergone some lineup changes over the years but now consists of three accomplished players: Mona Elliott, Mel Lederman, and Dave Norton. The sound hasn’t changed much with All Your Things are Gone, though, so diehard fans will be pleased with this latest release.

The piano- and guitar-driven songs play like tunes you might hear in a lonely bar after the crowd has thinned and the regulars have remained. The melancholia hangs all around these minor-key works, infused into the piano chords and the Ms. Elliott’s often low-register vocals. Fans of Shannon Wright will find something to like here, for sure, even if Wright’s compositions breathe less than do those on All Your Things, where the songs are given a more spacious treatment. Victory at Sea’s sound is more Nick Cave than Shannon Wright, come to think of it.

So, the piano and drums really drive most of the songs here. The playing is sharp and the instruments have been captured faithfully. “Turn it Around” opens with piano and drums; its first few measures alone will convince you of the band’s prowess. Halfway through the song, you get a loud guitar blast that just hangs in the air, proving that you don’t need to play fast to add some drama and tension to the music. The song’s ending is a little unusual – it sounds like the band is getting ready to launch back into the refrain, but instead it just stops.

Balanced with the rock-oriented approach of “Turn it Around” and “Undesirable” (which sounds like a good set-closer at a live show) are the slower, almost torch-song theatrics of “Four Leaf Clover,” “No Reason to Stay,” and “No Such Thing as Hearts.” For this type of song, the band can only keep itself quiet for most of the tune. Eventually there’s the louder passage to wake you up and keep things lively.

Perhaps the most memorable track is “Cecille,” whose chorus has hook written all over it. Rivaling “Cecille” for memorability, however, is the next track, “Bored Otherwise.” It gives the band a chance to show its June of 44 side as it builds into a drum-driven exercise in power and control. Its refrain, “I never saw anything before you / I never saw anything but you,” isn’t directed from one paramour to another, but instead from a child to its too-young parent. It’s the kind of inversion most lyricists wouldn’t think of, and it’s probably one of the reasons Victory at Sea has a kind of staying power that others might lack. Sometimes the lyrics are a little cloying or maudlin, but sometimes they hit you just right.