The Veils - Total Depravity (Nettwerk Records)

London alt. rockers enlist Run the Jewels' El-P as producer on visceral, impressive fifth album

Released Aug 26th, 2016 via Nettwerk / By Erick Mertz
The Veils - Total Depravity (Nettwerk Records) London-based, alt. rock five-piece The Veils fronted by incendiary lead singer Finn Andrews return with their newest record, their fifth in the last fifteen odd years as a band is Total Depravity a follow up to 2013’s apocryphal, Time Stays, We Go.

Produced by El-P (mastermind of hip-hop super group Run The Jewels) one of the first elements that introduces itself on Total Depravity is its satisfying vigour and bounce. The bawdy guitar and instrumental leads are backed up by dark beats, and a focus on underlying rhythm that allows the bluesy elements to explode out of the track mix. Core tracks like A Bit On The Side, Swimming With Crocodiles and Low Lays The Devil are shady, full of B-movie, Americana swagger that makes surrealistic use of Andrews’ often-evangelical vocal delivery, each crackle and sneer.

Andrew transitions from hip-twitchy front man, to truck stop preacher on King Of Chrome delivering his sermon of religious images, desert low lights and crumbling industrial scenery with vocal affects evocative of an AM radio pulpit. As a writer, he works brilliantly with words and images, giving him a smart and menacing feeling on every lyrical turn. On Here Comes The Dead he lists off a bizarre string of dead celebrities, L Ron Hubbard and Pope John Paul, Ingrid Bergman and Steve McQueen between frantic bursts of noise drenched guitars. Everything on Total Depravity is visceral at its core, dealing either in the images of death, descriptions of bodily harm, or the threats to basic health and safety. When the mood becomes more maudlin and necessitates a thoughtful mien, like on Iodine & Iron and House of Spirits where which delivers lines about no longer being home in the title domicile, Andrews is convincing, not just a ballad weaving pariah, but a wide-eyed, broken victim.

Andrews plays the dynamic front man to some acclaim. His father was one of the founding members of XTC and went on to work with luminary names like David Bowie, Robert Fripp and Iggy Pop. Andrews exudes a reptilian otherness, something that isn’t easily grasped until you read that he’s appearing in the new Twin Peaks series. Then you see it, you feel that nameless thread that defines this wonderful record. He wears a hood of weirdness, the ability to morph and push while remaining credible and that’s what Total Depravity ends up being, real and whole, which is really rarer than rupees.