Review: The Vare – Letterbox EP

The Vare are a relatively new band from halfway across the world in Montreal, Canada. It might seem a bit strange to review a band not on our Continent but nevertheless they deserve the exposure and we hope they can venture over here at some point in the near future!

They’re gearing up for their debut EP release on 4 May and it certainly looks to be a good one.

First track The Way You Were is placed at the beginning for a reason: it’s a got powerful piano riff at the start, a memorable melody in the chorus and some some catchy rhythmic stabs to keep you dancing. It also breaks up the 4/4 time signature with some nice rhythmic displacement, it’s not what you were expecting yet it still sticks in your head.

Body Heat has a bass line straight out of a ’90s R & B hit but it explodes into an indie guitar-thrashing chorus peppered with distortion and some strong vocal harmonies. I particularly like what the drummer does on this track, experimenting with poly-rhythms and layered percussion that builds towards the ends of the verses and (again) erupts in the chorus.

Mistakes is a tad repetitive and a wee bit cheesy, particularly the Sting style backing vocals on the chorus. It shows that although the band are quite experimental they are willing to lean more towards the pop sound on some tracks.

One thing can be said about the singing on this EP is that the vocalist uses a lot of  inflections on his voice and frequently does moaning slides into a lot of notes, particularly on Coat the Clocks. This sort of technique, I feel is too often used in the pop and indie music scene these days and is a little grating once you hear it over and over. It almost sounds as if they’re about to vomit and it’s not always a true representation of their vocal caliber and real voice. It’s especially common amongst American mainstream pop artists such as Bruno Mars, Maroon 5 and almost every female pop singer I can think of.

Besides this habit though, the singer actually has a very versatile voice, an extremely impressive range and is always in tune; rarely flat or sharp, so for that I must give him ample kudos.

Foreign Way is a song that would silence an overly rambunctious audience at a gig (let’s face it there are plenty of them!). At  2:28 all the commotion of the song is brought down to a hushed level and soft guitars come in that are quite capable of invoking a dewy eye or two; it’s a very satisfying listen.

A strikingly beautiful piano motif opens the final title track Letterbox and it really shows off the sublime acoustic qualities of the instrument. A sombre vocal enters bestowing upon you an intensely harrowing atmosphere  – I don’t know what exactly this track is about but I can feel the emotion overflowing and they convey a sense of forlornness that makes you feel deeply involved in their plight.

Each musician contributes to a veritable melting pot of different musical influences throughout the EP’s catalogue of songs. For a group that could be professedly branded an ‘indie’ band, they incorporate elements of post-rock, progressive, R & B, pop and dance music.  A compelling first effort, although not without its flaws. Let’s hope they can do a tour here in the UK someday soon!

PopBucket Review Score 7

Author: Charlie Piercey

Musician, Journalist, Expert Procrastinator.

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