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REVIEWS - SOUNDS

Title:
Easy
Artist(s):
Velvet Belly
El-Camel's Ratings:

Label:
Boilerhouse Records

Reviewer:
michael white

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The UK debut single from Norway’s Velvet Belly is as fresh, crisp and clean as the wide open spaces that the band hail from. Forget the esoteric name – netted from a deep-water shark – and the press release’s emphasis on the bands’ shared love for ‘70s New York punk, krautrock and ‘80s synth-pop; also disregard any preconceptions of isolated eclecticism surfacing from the remoteness of their origin. These are pure record company affectation. They may originate from a one-reindeer, coastal town in "Norway’s bible belt" but even out there you’ll still find the old mainstream washing up on shore.

Easy is as easy does; which is not some old Norwegian proverb - rather an apt description of the quietly, efficient clarity of the single. Vocalist Anne Marie Almedal’s delivery is as easy on the ear, as she is on the eye. The smoothness of their sound matches the soft feel of any er, shark you might care to mention but on this evidence there is little reason to believe they have the stomach to bite in the same manner. ‘Easy’ opens with an all too brief invocation of fellow Scandinavian - Bjork, then chiming guitars strum out icy, brittle perfection - all wrapped in comfortably warm, rounded vocals. It’s the Corrs dressed in Cardigans…

‘Unreal’ is an atmospheric mood piece - which is not the small town moody angst expected, or hoped for - simply a pleasant journey through soundscape as scenic and uninvolved as a brief cruise around the Norwegian coastline. ‘Tree At My Window’ is a Robert Frost poem set to a light, atmospheric acoustic pulse of wistful, shimmering beauty which most conveys the spatial dimensions alluded to. This track reverberates of language and in any language.

The band probably have little input on the way they are presented/promoted… whatever the reality, the first two tracks have little in the way of teeth. The effect is hygienically cleansing, as such the initial sparkle is little more than an element of functionality – it does the job… soon forgotten. ‘Tree At My Window’ however, reveals something altogether more deeply resonant and suggests someone ought to come clean.


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