I discovered The Velvet Teen (2000 – Present) when Elysium (2004) came out and loved it. They seemed quiet since their No Star – EP (2010), so it was a surprise to see they were playing a show in Minneapolis. No, Songkick wasn’t mistaking them for Minneapolis’s the Velveteen. They were even releasing a new album! Here’s a summary of my impression and descriptions of the stand-out songs from All is Illusory (2015).
Each song on the album is fairly straight forward and consistent in itself. The more mellow songs outnumber the upbeat ones, making this seem like an album of ballads. There are moments of dynamic intensity where the music bursts and then pulls back or slowly builds, though these moments don’t payoff on every song., I liked the rocking ones listed below.
“Eclipses” is the first fast-paced song on the album. It’s short and sweet, but sounds really full with multiple guitars constantly strumming. It’s a got a syncopated hook, dissonant chorus, and key change in the bridge. The drums are crazy as usual and the singing and music reach a nice climax near the end.
“Pecos” has an upbeat keyboard hook and soaring vocals. The guitar strumming and bass fill it out, but keep it light. The song builds after the second chorus with a keyboard solo and some “woah, woah”s. It releases into a soft bass solo among arrhythmic finger-picking that sounds like harps. They kick back into the song for a strong finish.
“The Giving In” was streaming on NPR before the album came out. It’s got bass and drum triplets partnered with atmospheric guitars. Another guitar provides a simple lead. The song builds into the first chorus and after a guitar solo the drums build in the second chorus to basically a drum solo.
“You Were the First” has a tricky rhythm drum, but fun breaks and guitar lead. The vocal lines go up and down octaves and have some shouting from the back up vocals. The second verse starts off with short, pointy notes before going back into the strong sound it started with through the second chorus to a quick ending.
Overall, the variety of keyboard sounds are interesting, ranging from harpsichord and classical piano to vocoder and catchy synth hooks. The vocal harmonies add to the impression that these songs could be ballads. Guitars vary from main accompanying instrument to atmospheric layering, from acoustic strumming to distorted shredding. The bass blends into the background mostly, but does offer some interesting swells and harmonics. The drums come off as bit too complex, but pound away in new and interesting ways with lots of fills. It’s generally good with some great moments.