Listen to any song on the Veils’ debut album, The Runaway Found, and it becomes glaringly apparent why they were initially signed to legendary UK record label Rough Trade. Many of the songs on The Runaway Found sound vaguely like a Jeff Buckley fronted version of the Smiths, but are well crafted enough that the listener won’t feel as though they have been listening to Buckley’s cover of “The Boy With a Thorn In His Side” on repeat. Lesser singers would gladly resign themselves to being Buckley clones, but Veils front man Finn Andrews is a capable enough singer that songs like “The Wild Son” rise above any and all comparisons and simply become lovely. Andrews is also open to more diversity than most indie singers. In pre-Rough Trade singles such as “Death and Co.”, there are manneristic hints of Suede front man Brett Anderson; on later albums, such as their second and thus far most consistent album Nux Vomica, Andrews’ vocals as well as the melodies bear a White Stripes influence.
When former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler is added to the equation as co-producer (on The Runaway Found and newest release Troubles of the Brain), the Veils begin appearing as an indie kid’s wet dream. Sadly, what sounds promising in print doesn’t always live up to perceptions in execution. The Veils are good, surely, but little of what they do is life-changing.
That said, this is an EP, a format which rarely exhibits major stylistic leaps or career-defining songs. For those curious about the Veils yet hopeless at determining a good place to start, Troubles of the Brain is a wise buy, as it is a brief seven songs long and over half those songs are solid. Another review of the EP described opener “Bloom” as sounding like the Drums being dragged through the gravel by Nick Cave. Although Andrews’ voice is far too jaunty for Cave comparisons to ever ring that true, the song does share the same bounciness as the Drums hit “Let’s Go Surfing”. Even if it’s more reminiscent of the Drums being told to keep it down by Jack White, the song is a fun and engaging opener. “The Wishbone” showcases the Veils’ more conventionally bluesy side, and would be quite at home on Nux Vomica. Final track “Us Godless Teenagers” and bonus song “Iodine and Iron” are barer, with the former retaining enough of Andrews’ signature jauntiness to ensure a place in the crevices of the listener’s brain.
Of these new songs, the one that best defines the Veils is “Don’t Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice”. The song has a charming briskness to it, but is fairly forgettable otherwise. In this day and age, career artists are becoming harder and harder to discern, and thus the Veils should not be called out for thus far falling short of that honor. Yet, when the influences come with as much caliber as the ones insinuated by the Veils, the stakes seem higher. Andrews clearly has some good ears and a lot of talent, so in time maybe he will prove himself to be something more than a beguiling indie soul with above average talent. In the meantime, there are far, far worse distractions.