I have heard a number of albums from the band Vegetables At Last. The band is prolific and consistent. Way back in 1997 the band released their debut album, and their most recent album entitled Winning Apples is their thirteenth release. The band does point out they function more as a collective these days with Paul Morris (vocals/guitars/songwriting/production), Simon Pickering (vocals/piano/organ/songwriting), Carl Fox (bass/guitars/percussion) and Adrian Carr (percussion) contributing to Winning Apples. Gareth Bouch of The Rain Dogs also contributed what he describes as electronica & atmospherics. They mention that the addition of Bouch gives the music a slightly different feel. That may be true but I would say this is still a rock oriented release. One thing to also note is that there are alternative versions of these songs on a different release which are not included in this review.
They open with “You’ll Do” and this is a great song that harks back to bands like Grandaddy, Clearlake and The Clientele. The atmosphere is definitely appreciated on the song but the guitar melodies and vocals really shine. I thought the rhythm section was pulling their weight as well. Great opener.
“Shiny Eyes For Me” is top notch as well. The other vocalist hits it out of the park and the guitar is again very well done with strong melodies that are pretty but also make the song feel like it’s moving forward. There’s a well-done breakdown section and the slight shoegaze quality increases as the song progresses.
“Signals” is a little more moody. The vocals are covered in a heavy hall reverb and the electronic percussion elements were subtle and added a good amount to the song. Bands like Ride and Slowdive came to mind on this song.
“Stars” is happy go lucky in comparison and arguably the most catchy song on the album. You might find yourself singing along with this one on the second spin. It sounds like a manipulated harmonica solo at one point which I thought was very cool.
The band rarely gets introspective in my opinion but they do so on “If the Earth is Round.” It was a nice change in mood and contains sentimental lyrics. That mood lingers with “Stupid Ways To Die” but is more experimental and atmospheric. I loved the distorted distant feedback on this song.
The band rocks out hard on “Emma This Girl I Know” which reminded me of one of my favorite bands from the ’90s - Pulp. On “Underground” the deep baritone voice fits perfectly while “I Need Your Keys” contains earthy organ and lyrics about a turbulent romantic relationship. “Nee Naa” contains some of the most epic moments on the album. Last up is “You’re Not Mine” which is a melancholy closer that wraps you in warm horns and piano that feel like a hug.
I thought the additional atmospheres were well implemented. In fact Winning Apples might be my favorite release from Vegetables At Last. Highly recommended.
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