Victories At Sea's debut is solid but not quite everything
The Birmingham three-piece’s long-awaited LP finally arrives, boasting some fine electronica, though never quite living up to its large potential.
Victories At Sea emerged from Birmingham’s concrete paradise with 2013’s ‘In Memory Of EP’. It showcased the band’s largely pop sensibilities - their ear for a tune is unmistakeably impressive – but also demonstrated their admiration of swirling, guitar landscapes, akin to Slowdive, whom they name as an influence. Two years spent recording in the basement of a former whistle factory later and we have their debut LP, ‘Everything Forever’, which bears a distinctly more electronic sound, shredding some of the suspense and subtlety that garnered ‘In Memory Of’ so much attention.
Things kick off with “Bloom”, a thoroughly impressive slice of melancholic post-punk. It’s held together by an earworm of a keyboard riff, always threatening to break out into a massive chorus, but never quite breaking free. Its undoubtedly wistful tone almost hints at a sense of hope, possibly reflected in lead singer John-Paul White’s low, echoed vocals, but you’re left with an overwhelming sense of regret. It’s a near-on perfect start to the album.
Sadly, ‘Everything Forever’ doesn’t always find this intense emotional range. “Florentine” comes and goes with a Foals-esque brashness, while “Poles Apart” comes across as middle-of-the-road continental electro. “Future Gold” is reminiscent of last decade’s ‘nu-rave’ scene, reflecting a certain Klaxons or Ou Est Le Swimming Pool hastiness.
Not all is lost though, as the outstanding “Up” builds up into a corking mid-80s New Order hit, and the more restrained “On Your Own” is catchy indie-pop at its finest, losing the in-your-face snare for a more reserved, guitar-led sound. This is where Victories At Sea are at their best, creating an atmosphere and taking the listener on a journey, as opposed to the rather one-dimensional electronica that occasionally infiltrates ‘Everything Forever’.
The album ends with “Sirens”, its unrivalled stand-out track. Once again, Victories At Sea show themselves more than adept at creating layer-upon-layer of atmosphere, dabbling here in a more expansive post-rock sound. They state Mogwai as an influence and it’s easy to see bits of Mogwai and 65daysofstatic in this mesmerising album climax.
‘Everything Forever’ is a good album, more than worth a listen and a great debut, but it could have been so much more. If it’s a toss-up between up-tempo, club disco and intense, atmospheric landscapes, this writer would choose the latter every time. We haven't quite seen everything from Victories At Sea just yet.