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Vanilla Gloom – Vexed EP


Vanilla Gloom. It sounds like the sort of thing a depressed Willy Wonka might create. A grunge gumdrop, say. Just a taste and you’re transported back, back, back in time, all the way to the early-Nineties and a rain-slicked Seattle. Creatures in plaid lumberjack shirts and distressed jeans stalk the land, stomping their enemies under their Doc Marten-ed heels, paying tribute to King Kurt. Times are heavy. Times are good.

Vanilla Gloom’s Vexed EP will take you back to those times just as surely as any magic lozenge. They’re a new-fangled, guitar-toting, female three-piece. They’re from Derry, originally, now based in Belfast and, musically, rooted in the sounds that emerged from the American alt-rock landscape two decades ago. At different points here, I was minded to think of the loose-limbed bass on ‘Cannonball’, the ramshackle feel of Screaming Trees, the ball-busting attitude of L7.

And, boy, oh boy, can these girls rock. On ‘Wolves’, for example, they produce the sort of scorching riffage you could imagine Josh Homme baking in his Palm Desert man-cave. Its outro is QOTSA to a thrilling tee, all thuggish guitar and anthemic holler, ‘I hate you so much / And I want you to know…’. By contrast, lead single ‘Lemons and Wine’ doesn’t have quite the same zing. The propulsive drums and choppy guitars give it plenty of oomph and those who like their tunes a little frayed around the edges will find much to enjoy. For me, though, the undoubted dynamism doesn’t translate to as potent a melodic pay-off as the other two tracks. What’s more, the vocal – wonderfully anguished and brimful of feeling – is a little lost during the more cacophonous moments.

The closing ‘Vultures’ meanwhile taps the vein of Hole circa Live Through This, the emotions tear-streaked, the tune instantly memorable. It builds to a sneering kiss-off, ‘Leave me alone / I’m better off on my own…”, as the guitars start to rev like the approach of ole Leatherface hisself. And, remember, this is the sound of a band starting out, still rifling through their heroes’ wardrobes to see what fits. It is a brilliant statement of intent. And if, in time, they can refine this style into something more truly their own, they can be formidable. Francis Jones

Self-released | Vanilla Gloom