I was scrolling around on Twitter around midnight on New Year's Eve this year, and came across a tweet of someone saying, "The Beatles? Really? You could do no better, in 2015?"It has been hip to hate on The Beatles for longer than they were around, at this point. There's a whole philosophy of listening to music, encapsulated in the "been there, done that" way of thinking, that thinks that liking something that everybody likes, that is accepted as good, or even great, is passe.
This pretty much rules out the entire genre of psychedelic pop, which The Beatles helped to define and create with Sgt. Peppers. I bring this up only as an example, as The Vow's You Are? is more mod freakbeat a go go than harpsichords and mellotrons, more The Kinks and The Who than Syd Barrett, with a similar British accent and catherine wheel guitars.
If I were to pick one, I'd call upon The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society, and its encapsulation of the disappearing British idyllic life.
The Vow's music calls up similar visions of endless lawns and gardens, heaths and hedgerows, which are lit around the edges with Christmas lights and flying saucer - the whole proceedings filmed through a spinning kaleidoscopic lens. The fact that what most people consider as "psychedelic rock" is merely one offshoot, most in line with the acid rock of Cream and Hendrix, neglects vast continents of the psychedelic landscape, leaving them stranded and unexplored. It's like watching a dream die and blow away in the wind.
But The Vow are keeping British mod psych pop alive and well, and not as a museum piece, either; as a living, breathing entity. What makes a work of art stand out against the imitators? It's always a mystery, what that component is that stands the hair on your arm on end.
In the case of The Vow, the first thing to stand out and wring your attention are Graham Trust's vocals; high, clear and pure as a bell, which allows him to slide in and out of perfect pitch with perfect control. The perfect intonation of Trust's vocals make you lean in and notice all the other wonderment happening: the keening harmonies, which add the perfect amount of grit to the sweetness; the razor sharp guitar solos; the churning B-3 organ. All in all, You Are? is ornate without ever becoming precious.
So if you're one of those that feel that it's passe to like The Beatles, pretend you're listening to latter day psych purveyors like The Bevis Frond or The Brian Jonestown Massacre, minus the psychosis. But, more accurately, relish The Vow as their own thing. With three full lengths in three years, all of top quality, this band is clearly one to have on your radars, if you like music that nods to the '60s, while still being distinctive and individualistic.
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