REVIEW: Velodrone — “Velodrone” (LP)
“Where are you going? There’s a strong wind blowing” warns a haunting lyric in the brutish “Black Cat,” one of my favorite songs off of the new eponymous album from Velodrone, the vocal conveying it carrying a lot of the sting the words can only suggest to us in black and white form. There’s a lot of lyrical lustiness to be enjoyed about the first Velodrone record, and particularly in tracks like this one, but as you’ll soon discover upon listening to its thirty-four minutes of play for yourself, poeticisms come in linguistic and sonic channels just the same in this LP.
In the case of songs like “Harvest Moon,” “Sleepwalking” and “Reality,” saying that the verses are generally subdued beneath a fearless backend pressure that seems to swell every other beat probably wouldn’t be putting enough emphases on the importance of the instrumental element here. Velodrone are very meticulous about the way they’ve put together the grooves in this album, and while that might not be the norm for their competitors in the mainstream spectrum of contemporary rock music, they’re not looking to be in the norm — that much is clear even at a distance when listening to this virgin record.
The way “Wysiwyg,” the retro-retro “Believe” and assaultive “Voyeur” were mixed is raw beyond what many bands would feel comfortable working with in 2020, but I do think that it was necessary to follow this kind of a recipe for the sort of sound that the group is trying to produce here at the end of the day. If there’s one thing that Velodrone are going out of their way to avoid in the big picture of this album, it’s comparisons to the other college radio spotlight-seeking indie acts whose major priorities tend to center on the commercial over the emotionally communicative, and this is made evident by their constant efficiency and utilization of every track as a specific, independent canvas atop which to paint us a story.
There’s so much sludge on the bassline in “Elated,” the post-punk “Together,” opening cut “Love Race” and “Voyeur” that I actually think you could break a cheap set of speakers if listening to these songs at a moderate to excessive volume, and for those who like heavy melodies of the grungier strain, this isn’t a problem at all — the polar opposite, actually. Velodrone aren’t showing any resistance towards noise and unkempt harmonies in this debut, and considering how long it’s been since that were the trend, their sound is bound to seem a little revolutionary at times.
I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing what Velodrone are going to do with the fleeting momentum they’ve got behind their music at the moment thanks to the well-planned release of this debut album, and if I were them I would be working on a return to the studio for a sophomore LP on the soonest possible occasion. Striking while the iron is hot is half of this business, and they’re onto something I would deem fairly sizzling here.