Van Susans – "We Could Be Scenery" EP Review

“We Could Be Scenery” is the début EP of Bromley Sextet Van Susans. Their sound is a melodic mixture of pop, punk and English folk. They sound like what would happen if Frank Turner had a side project not a solo career, or if Mumford and Sons got drunk in a bar with Scouting for Girls and signed a collaboration deal.

The first few bars of their opening track make it sound like a typically up beat punky pop song with only The Rembrandtsesque hand clapping to hint at the more folky aspects to come. The guitar takes a back seat to a more pronounced piano in the second track and is a better representation of the albums tone for it. Bones is the single and for good reason. It has a sincerity to it that raises it above the standard for the mainstream examples of the genre. It makes you believe that songwriters words are genuine, even if his sentiments aren’t exactly the most intelligent or mature.

Or the most original. Songs encouraging the audience to get out of bed and play or about how the long term plans of a young couple never come to fruition are reminders of the groups adolescence. But with youth comes an energy that lends itself to even the most dreary ballad in any other groups hands. Each track builds itself upon a slow beginning, turning into a volume pumping, voice raising anthem that rushes the adrenaline, taps the toes and nods the head. It’s just a shame some of the tracks take a while to get to this state.

That’s the big problem with Vans Susans. They could well be scenery. The title could have been a Freudian slip, an accidental self confession of their biggest shortcomings. They’re background music. For the vast majority of this quite by the numbers album they simply don’t do enough to grab the listener, to demand their attention, to pull them away from all of the other options out there for listening pleasure.

They are a band who have all the basics right but they never expand upon them. The melodies are great, the musicianship is excellent and the production values are surprisingly professional for band with nothing other than an independent label to boast; but it doesn’t come to much more than simply adequate if they don’t try for something more far reaching.

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3 comments

  1. You seem more bitter than objective. I’d suffice that this kind of music isn’t your scene which I bet is quite a niche because you come across as quite narrow minded and self-contradicting. ‘Punk’ is not a genre I would associate with such music; ever. I have read some of your other articles and in no way can I summon myself to believe that you might have a credible opinion. You are closed minded and have little musical knowledge. If you knew more bands and had a taste that expands beyond the most mainstream of acts you might actually be able to contrive a tasteful and well thought through review, one that does not sound like you are confused by a rising new genre now referred to as ‘IndyFolk’. Get to grips with the modern music as it moves because this is a band on it’s way. You are failing to review something in its own context as oppose to in context with everything you’ve already heard from the past. You’re attitude is arrogant and self-righteous and it would be fair to say that that is the reason why you are writing for this magazine and nothing better. You have failed as a writer. I listened to this band and can see them going very far!

  2. Hey, it’s Eddie Dullaway here – the lead guitarist from Van Susans.
    I’d just like to say, thank you taking the time to listen and review our E.p. We happily take on board your comments and respect your opinions on our music.

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