Robin Guthrie must be one of those people who just hates doing
nothing. His old band, Cocteau
Twins, released 15 EP's and 9 LP's in a little over 15 years.
That's a lot of output! And now we have the fourth release from
Violet Indiana in a little over a year.
I must admit, though, that there is a certain value to Guthrie's
constant work. With each release Violet Indiana have become
more and more honed, more polished. Not that Choke,
their first EP, was raw or unfocused. Rather, Guthrie continues
to polish and perfect the sound. Special includes
some of their best work to date in the form of four songs and
The first track, Jailbird, starts off with a very nice
riff on the bass and drums. Eventually Guthrie's guitar wanders
in accompanied by the voice of Siobhan DeMare. It's a lite and
dreamy little song. The bridge is interesting though -- it features
a "chat" section, with DeMare talking as if she is breaking
up with the listener. I think. Sometimes i find it hard to understand
exactly what someone with a thick British accent is saying,
and in this case with vocals layered behind the speech and the
guitars and drums and bass ... Well, i'm not 100% sure what
she is talking about. She sounds a little annoyed though.....
The next track, Poppy might be the most delicate Violet
Indiana song yet, which is saying something for this band! DeMare's
vocals are almost whispered, which in all honesty only makes
her voice sound sexier (something i had not thought possible!).
Her voice is backed up by Guthrie's barely strummed guitar and
some light brushed drums. This is a very beautiful song.
Synths are added to the Violet Indiana sound on Sky
as a nice counterpoint to Guthrie's guitars. This song features
an insistent rhythm and is nice and catchy. It's a really good
After that bit of catchyness, things get brought back down
a notch with Chapter 3. This is a slowly paced dramatic
song, with DeMare really giving it her all. The last minute
of this tune is great -- Guthrie turns on the distortion and
the drummer goes for it. A nice bit of noise and feedback to
end the EP. Really nicely done
Now, in addition to the four songs, the CD for Special
features a video for the song Poppy that you can play
on your computer. It's a .mov -- quicktime format video.
I'm not really into computer video. I know some people who
insist on having a DVD player in their computer, whereas i personally
find no attraction in sitting in front of a machine watching
moving images on a tiny monitor. I want my 21" TV if i am going
to watch video!
Nonetheless, i watched this video in the interest of criticism.
(And 'cause Brendan told me i had to.) So here are my thoughts:
it's kinda dull. Don't get me wrong -- i really like the song,
but the video is just Guthrie and DeMare standing around in
a white room, their fashes washed out by overlighting, and the
camera circling around them. There are lots of closeups of Guthrie
playing a very nice looking Gretsch, and lots of shots of DeMare's
noseless face (the nose being washed out by the overlighting).
I think that the video really adds nothing to the song. In
fact, i find it detracts a little. I think that DeMare's voice
is incredibly sexy, but watching her in the video, well, SHE
is not as sexy as her voice implies. Not to say that she is
some sort of hideous creature, but rather that she seems to
look like a normal British woman, whereas just from her voice
i would have thought she looked more like Uma Thurman or something.
Sigh. I just hate it when reality crushes my little illusions!
At any rate -- i think that Violet Indiana have turned in their
best release to date. Four fine songs, and one video. At this
rate, in another year or two Guthrie will have polished the
band's sound so much that it will be inescapably beautiful.
Here here. Keep it up Mr. Guthrie.