No Handshake Blues – Irma Vep

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Any album which begins with the same bells tolling as AC/DC and John Lennon has some big boots to fill! From the first chord, Irma Vep (named after the movie?) sets the scene as a guitar based soundscape, shoe-gaze, psychedelia, band hailing from Wales and Manchester and delivering a solid album off the back of a few years on the touring scene. There are a few stand out moments from the album which gives a modern take on psychedelia, but overall leaves a really strong imprint that this band really know how to deliver a strangely relaxing, chilled out set of songs and soundscapes.

The titular track is a powerhouse of an instrumental, reminiscent of the kind of simple chord progression made famous in the 60’s and in the psychedelic rock genre. The musicianship is interesting enough to hold your attention, a real skill given the simplicity of the instrumentation and song form.

‘Hey, You!’ is a fine track showing some of the song writing skills at play underneath the noise and the overdriven effects. ‘The Moaning Song’ follows and is a real highlight to the album, being an engaging, track which gives out an almost post-modern Spanish vibe dishing out plenty dissonance, intriguing lyrics and vocal melody, delivered over an arthritis-inducing picked guitar. The repetition which builds to the climax of the song is a really fine example of what Irma Vep deliver.

‘You Know I’ve Been Ill’ hits out at the listener with a quaver driven change of pace, with a more traditional song format and a more radio friendly track from the album. More radio potential follows with ‘Still Sorry’ which balances beautiful instrumentation and distorted effects all in one neat package, bringing the album to an effective close.

The production on the album is generally very heavy and if you like the sound and feel of the heavier end of the Velvet Underground then you will very much enjoy this sound. There is one track on the album which appears to be a live track, ‘Hey, You!’, and overall, the production is a very thoughtfully executed dirty sound and does the trick nicely of accompanying the feel and scope of the album.

The tracks all tend to feature a lot of repetition and rather than this making them boring, it makes the lyrical content and the delivery all the more interesting. Despite songs often being based on a few chords, they never fail to entertain and engage. The vocal parts are interesting and delivered with passion and feeling. The band come across very well on record, but I suspect they really hit their stride when performing live and I hope they make their way north again sometime soon.

Keith Nicholson

Keith Nicholson
I'm a trumpet player and fan of all kinds of music but jazz and classical are my bae.

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