Violet Woods – self-titled

Violet Woods - self-titled

Violet Woods – self-titled

Having debuted in late-2012 with the sublime Raw Love 7” for The Great Pop Supplement label and the dreamy download-only “Driftwood Royalty” single, it’s taken some time for the Cambridge-grown Violet Woods to fashion an album-sized release.  After two immersive sessions in the analogue Aladdin’s Cave of London’s Soup Studios during the course of the last year or so the quartet – led by moonlighting Fuzzy Lights singer/guitarist Xavier Watkins – finally deliver a 9-track LP that seeks to reconcile and expand the two sides of the group’s psyche-pop equations.

Exploring fuzzier and more layered textures overall, this eponymous set takes things deeper than the harmony-coated 12-string twang and jangle beginnings of “Raw Love” and “Driftwood Royalty” (although both songs happily reappear in all their Younger Than Yesterday-via-Duane Eddy glory, alongside seven newer songs).  Hence, through “Electric Fascination” and “The Dancer” the most lysergic strains of Jefferson Airplane are fused to Doors-like mysticism; for “Over The Ground” and “What I Need” scything guitars and swirling organs recall passages of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn; with “Here” the warmest electric six-string sounds of mid-‘90s Yo La Tengo are summoned to break through the overriding ’60s retro mist; across “Take Your Time” Real Estate’s languid chiming is subtly recalibrated with help from bassist Veronika Hillebrand’s yearning backing vocals; and the galloping raw raga-rock of “The River” imagines The Byrds remixed by Wooden Shjips.

Although a few songs would have benefited from some stronger vocal/lyrical components and more direct hooks, the album has been artfully and enthusiastically assembled as a largely satisfying whole, whilst leaving plenty of room for future self-finessing of the Violet Woods sound.  A promising full-length statement in short.

The Great Pop Supplement (vinyl) / Meadows Records (CD/digital)