Originally formed in Adelaide, Australia back in 1990 the pop and prog infused indie-rock band, The Violets, distinguished themselves from their contemporaries. They signed with legendary Sydney label Phantom Records, and after receiving critical acclaim, industry awards and nationwide airplay, the quartet endured a mid-90s hiatus after personal and contractual issues disrupted their upward momentum. After their debut album “Leased Regret” in 1995, and a string of successful singles, they went on to release the EP “Asphyxia”, which was followed by their sophomore album “Unwelcome Digital Visitor”.
Now signed to Paper Rock Scissors Records, The Violets have released their brand new album “Smoke, Mirrors & other half-truths”. The band’s clear understanding of how to keep abreast of industry trends in indie-rock development, ensuring they are not lost in the sea of homogeneity and mediocrity, is definitely something that this album evidences. The more the 7-track project is played on loop, the more the idea of it being a brilliant evolution of their core sound turns into a genuine realization.
The Violets expertly straddle the cavernous critical divide between jangling indie guitar-rock and forward-thinking alt-pop. Standing firmly in their lane, the quartet is back with a career-defining juggernaut of a record, proving that the band is a force to be reckoned with. The Violets manage to be ahead of the curve, and deeply attuned to the current trends of the industry. Nothing about “Smoke, Mirrors & other half-truths” is predictable.
The band opens the album with the resonant basslines and drum beat of “Sideways”, which hits steady and hard under the moody vocals, quickly setting an impressive tone to the proceedings. The shimmering guitars expand with bright reverberation on “Love Lies In The Rain”, which also features a twisting harmonica solo. All of which ensures this record won’t be lost in the fog of alternative radio’s monotony. If the job was to create a fresh, adventurous sound to complete a transformation in the making, The Violets have succeeded.
“My Whole World” is loose, ambitious, lively, and completely authentic. The Violets have brought vocal clarity, maturity, and confidence, against a backdrop of musical exploration throughout these tracks. “Shaken & Stirred” is attention-grabbing with precision arranging, poignant lyrics, and the blended vocals are rich with tonal decoration. Here, midway through the album, we get a substantial peek inside the artistic strengths of The Violets.
The more urgent “All Went South” makes for a track that keeps listeners on their toes with a section of tempo twists and turns, enhancing the experience. The Violets’ command of texture is what makes this record so immediately appealing, and so much better than anything they’ve released in the past. It all comes to the fore on the piano and string-driven, cinematic-like “April’s Fool”, where every sonic detail is thoughtfully placed, in-between, and behind the sublime lead vocals.
The album closes as strongly as it started, with deep resonant basslines and slapping drums dominating the template on “Here I Am”, before the deliciously aching guitar solo steps up to the plate and sends the song surging to the finish line. There is no doubt that The Violets have crafted a compelling and forceful song here.
The Australian quartet have always been able to craft pristine tunes with nothing out of place, but the tracks on “Smoke, Mirrors & other half-truths” feel both more meticulous and scintillating. The basslines are infectious, the percussion punchy, and the guitars further enhance the soundscapes behind the dynamic vocals.
The fact that the band has not played together for 20 years up until now, has in no way stopped The Violets from being extremely good at crafting incandescent, multi-textured tunes, regardless of tempo, that captivate at every turn. That makes for a triumphant return!