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Album Review
The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War
by The Vietnam War

Round Trip Mars

Review Date
21st July 2011
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

It’s not an easy thing to be a band in New Zealand. Aside from the difficulty in making a living from it for even of our more successful acts, as a nation we have struggled to establish a musical identity.  Too often, local bands appear to be pale imitations of American or English bands.  This problem is often compounded when the chosen genre is intrinsically linked to aspects of another country’s national identity. Consider the English working class punk aesthetic or , of more relevance here, American Folk and Country music. Which brings me to The Vietnam War.

Avoiding this problem has got to be one of the greater artistic achievements of this record. The genealogy provides it with a musical framework, but it comes together in a way that successfully avoids cliché. It seems to effectively re-purpose these genres into something relevant to living in the South Pacific. This is not caricature but a genuine exploration of style.

However, none of this matters if the songs are shit; which they aren’t.  The album is well sequenced and shows off the variety of song-writing nicely. It never seems to stay in the same place too long. Constructed around a lone voice and an acoustic guitar, the songs are simple yet complex and evocative but not cloying.  I particularly like the dark tinge that underpins many of the tunes but then, there is also a certain joyousness to it too.  With the over abundance of nice safe music at present, this album is pleasant but never too nice or pretentious. It presents itself clearly and honestly.

This record was some time coming. But it benefits from that. There is a depth here not always apparent in debuts and it bears up to repeated listening. If this was my band, I’d be feeling quite pleased with myself about now.


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