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Album Review
Sun Gangs

Sun Gangs
by The Veils

Rough Trade

Review Date
1st June 2009
Reviewed by
Courtney Sanders

The veils are one of those notoriously hard-to-pin-down Kiwi bands. Singer/songwriter Finn Andrews is a tall skinny ex-pat who dresses entirely in black (non shiny) and wears an Amish hat, who seemingly escaped overseas as soon as he could, swaps band members like most men do ties, and returns to his home shores occasionally to peddle an album to his generally unwilling (at least compared to overseas) compatriots. So I guess it’s easy to see why at least over here, The Veils have attained only limited success and avoided notoriety and celebrity coverage like many other darlings of NZ music (no Smokefree campaign for Andrews). Although I’m sure tall poppy had something to do with it, because if Nux Vomica hadn’t at least hedged bets, Sun Gangs settles them; The Veils are good.

When I sat down to write up the review for this album, I’d actually just finished watching Band of Brothers (shame? I love it), that made for TV series directed by Tom Hanks and Steven Speilberg about an American Company during WWII, and a particular episode which finds said Company liberating concentration camps in Germany. Harrowing to say the least, the episode actually ends with a string quartet playing in the ruins of a German town, and going straight from that to the first track on Sun Gangs felt like a totally natural transition. The operatic qualities of Finn Andrews voice, that theatrical Arcade Fire-esque musical construction and production all present; track ‘Sit down by the Fire’ would be an appropriate filler for any war era period drama, because Sun Gangs is completely timeless musical output. From the driving guitars and strings on aforementioned opener, to the tranquil title track which follows, every song would be equally appropriate in some Atonement like literary translation (read: intelligent pop) as at a shitty bar with terrible sound on a Saturday night (although potentially accompanied by a tall G&T).

Which is why Track Four ‘Killed by the Boom’ sums up the album. Like some post apocalyptic male Patti Smith spoken word freak out that involves Andrews talking about Governments, death, being killed by the moon and various other next-level details, it presents that underlying evil emotive element of every Veils track; a ghostly, eerie undertone, that kind of pierces your sensibilities, simultaneously pleasant and unsettling. Perhaps that’s why - along with the likes of James Milne - they had to go overseas to get noticed. New Zealand just isn’t that great at standing up and taking notice of it’s own subtle beauty. Or accepting gothics.

Courtney Sanders

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