Vegas Nights - Touch and Feel/It Came As No Surprise

Chris Tapley 12/10/2009

Rating: 4.5/5

Traditionally popular music as a whole tends to move in cycles, an ever trundling wheel of reinvention and recycling of ideas. At this particular moment in time there seems to be a glut of bands intent on reviving the sounds of the 1980's. As is often the case though, many of the acts involved in this resurgence tend to miss the point completely, bypassing the spirit of the music which initially made it so exciting. Instead mistaking it for being all about faux romantic posturing, silly haircuts and refusing to smile for press photos.

As such it's a relief to come across bands like Vegas Nights who imbue their influences with a sense of substance rather than style, coalescing them in to something with a bit of personality. There's a familiar mixture of inspirations certainly; The Cure, OMD, The Stone Roses. Unlike many of the other bands around at the moment though, they retain the slight experimental tendencies which initially made these bands so vital. It Came As No Surprise boasts what sounds ostensibly like a chorus without any lyrics, yet somehow manages to be insanely catchy.

Touch and Feel bounds straight into life with anthemic harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys with a hint of The Housemartins. As you would imagine given such references, this very much seems like a pop song. There's a happy go lucky fa├žade to these songs, but there's still an underlying cynicism which at times recalls the skewed romanticism of Ian Curtis or Edwyn Collins. The latter part of the track being characterised much more of a melancholic disposition with fragile vocals and less frenetic almost languid instrumentation, which points toward an interesting 'other side' to their sound.

It Came As No Surprise confirms these traits with it's instantly memorable Cure style riff and despairing lyrics. It's a veritable snapshot of the very best periods of British pop music; a time when popular music had more of a soul, and certainly more artistic merit than is exhibited in today's charts. Yes it was catchy, but more than anything it was born out of a feeling of discontent, of wanting something better. That cynicism was masked by the songs upbeat tones and a sense of bravado though, bands like The Smiths and Orange Juice being prime examples. It's this apparent shared spirit which makes Vegas Nights more exciting than most of the other derivative 80's style dross being spouted out at the moment.

This is a very promising debut from a band with the potential to make records as exciting as they are accessible, something which has been mostly lacking in the British music scene for quite some time.