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Evans the Death - Vanilla

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 3 / 7 / 2016

Evans the Death - Vanilla
Label: Fortuna POP!
Format: CD


Curious and experimental follow-up to their second album 'Expect Delays' from London-based alternative rock/pop outfit, Evans the Death

We had the privilege of reviewing 2015’s critically acclaimed 'Expect Delays', and this is the eagerly awaited follow-up to that album from London five-piece, Evans the Death. They return with 'Vanilla', their most ambitious and experimental album to date. Does it work? Well, the jury is out on this one. It is growing on me but slowly.' Expect Delays' was an uncompromising offering. It was very pop whilst being bleak. 'Vanilla', the band's third album, sees them steer their ship into a more adventurous sea but are they battling against the swell? The band were formed by brothers Dan and Olly Moss with singer Katherine Whitaker after they met her in 2011 at a Let’s Wrestle show, and take their band name from the undertaker in Dylan Thomas' 'Under Milk Wood'. The line-up has changed somewhat over the last few years, and now sports James Burkitt on drums and Daniel Raphael on bass. As with their two previous albums,'Vanilla' was recorded at Lightship95 in London with producer Rory Attwell, but it is a very different record from the last. Its style and mood seems strange to me, but involved a carefully planned strategy for recording. According to Dan Moss: “We deliberately booked very little time in the studio, and we pretty much did everything live, together in the room – there was no trying to fix any mistakes. What you hear is very close to what we did in that moment – so technically, while it isn’t overly polished or slick, it’s a very high fidelity recording – an accurate reproduction of the original source. I think that gives it more of an urgency and honesty than the first two. We decided to limit ourselves to 8 tracks and this meant we were restricted in how much we could alter things after recording, and the amount of overdubs we could do – which is what we wanted.” I don't want to dwell and harp on about how good 'Expect Delays' was, and I totally agree that bands have to evolve in their own direction, but there are parts of this that I really struggle with to be honest. About halfway through we get a glimpse of the melodic Evans that has been lacking in its first part. There is no doubt that they have a real energy and vitality and their trademark sense of dread and paranoia is coupled in abundance with that raw excitement that Evans the Death has always been able to deliver, but for me it dwells too long on the what could be rather than what actually is. The party time 'Suitcase Jimmy' is a portrait of a fictional out-of-luck actor with a guitar section likened to the great Wilko Johnson. 'Hey! Buddy' leans toward the poppier side of Evans the Death, while 'Cable St. Blues' is different again, apparently representing an "argument you have with yourself, about depression and extreme self-criticism and self-doubt, struggling to function”. That track was named after the site of the 1936 riots and where the band wrote the album, to which Dan states “I wanted the end to sound like a New Orleans jazz funeral”. There are large, oozing chasms of 'Vanilla' which are excellent. There are also pockets of new material, untried and untested that take the band in a direction they need to go in to progress. But there are confusingly chunks of non-descript blank bits. There's no denying that it is a murky, torn and snarling tempestuous thing, impossible to categorise and right on the button for an Evans the Death album. It just drifts off into no man's land in places. It's not a disappointing album because I don't think they are capable of dishing out a disappointing album, but it is a curious one.

Track Listing:-
1 Haunted Wheelchair
2 Suitcase Jimmy
3 No Imitations
4 Hey! Buddy
5 Cable St. Blues
6 Disowner
7 Hot Sauce
8 Armchair Theatre
9 Welcome to Usk
10 European Bison

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