Vanna - The Few and Far Between
Record Label: Artery Recordings/Razor & Tie
Release Date: March 19, 2013
With their most recent effort, it's clear that Vanna is really trying to push the boundaries of most of the music in their scene. The 'post-hardcore' label they've given themselves would generally either lump them into one of two completely different groups of artists. The first and probably less accurate of those groups would be the one consisting of Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth. The other group would contain the likes of Silverstein or In Fear and Faith. The latter would be more accurate, but to say Vanna fit with either of those groups on The Few and Far Between would be misleading. They've really developed a unique sound and pushed past the common patterns that most post-hardcore bands usually embrace.
Probably the best thing about this album is the range of influences it draws from. Most of the songs are centered around the typical post-hardcore sound they established with their earlier records, complete with booming breakdowns and driving drum beats, which can be heard in its purest form on the lead single "Year of the Rat." But this sound is not what's most enjoyable about The Few and Far Between. In fact, "Year of the Rat" could easily be the weakest song on the album (although the slow and boring eponymous opener gives it a run for its money). What makes this album great is the unique infusion of elements from the other 'type' of post-hardcore, such as the ambient and effects-laced guitar parts on "Please Stay" and "The Dreamer/The Thief/The Relic." There's also an excess of raw and angry energy that can be heard on every song, clearly drawing influence from a lot of old school hardcore punk.
All three styles can be found scattered throughout the album. Sometimes they're blended, sometimes they're on their own, but at every moment, the songwriting is tasteful and there's a lot of power behind the instrumental. A lot of this power is probably channeled through pure anger. Vocalist Davey Muise clearly has a lot of frustration and hatred to get out through these lyrics, and the rest of the band are writing the perfect parts to match them. With themes of unforgiving anger towards an absent father in "A Weekly Slap in the Face," Muise proclaims "you're not a man/I'll tell you why/men don't leave their families to die." This fury carries over into "A Thin Place" where he continues to express his discontent with absence and screams "hey God, it's me again/where have you gone? where the fuck have you been?/you've watched wars, you've watched people die/you've watched my father sin, you've watched my mother cry." This overarching theme pushes the album in the hardcore punk direction and really matches the influence the band draws from that style, creating a very unified final product that is as refined as it is aggressive.
Despite the lineup changes across their time as a band, most notably the various vocalists they've been through, Vanna has still been able to put out a solid record that sounds enough like them, but has plenty of originality that both shows growth and maturity and sets them apart from a lot of the other bands they would normally be compared to. New lead guitarist/vocalist Joel Pastuszak shows that he fits right in with Vanna, and while he may not be heard quite as much as Evan was, his vocal melodies are much more tasteful and match the instrumental perfectly. The Few and Far Between is simply a strong effort that shows a band in their prime doing the best they can to show that they've got something that isn't too easy to come by these days.
I really enjoyed this album, but with the mixed feelings I had toward the previous record, I was hesitant to purchase it right away. My biggest issue with the previous recording was the lack of dynamics in the music and vocals, possible being do to some lack-luster production, however with this new release, they seemed to have taken care of the issue for the most part. I wish the album had some more lows in with the highs, maybe even leaving some spaces unfilled, but otherwise I think this record is very strong and very distinguishable from other music in the similar genres. I was disappointed to see some harsh reviews on other sites, but we all have our own preferences I suppose. If you like full, heavy, dynamic hardcore, I think you will appreciate this album.
This was mediocre at its highest moments. I can even distance myself from their old sound and listen to this as an entirely new band, which is what they are. The sound is different and there are only 2 original members. To call this band vanna still is insulting to vanna fans and insulting to fans of this album. The entire cd for the most part is forgettable. The guitar work isnt terrible and the bass is top notch, but everything else really falters. As a Vanna cd this gets a 1/5. Separated from that 2/5. There is nothing special here.
I'd give it a 7/10. It's solid, fun but not a lot stands out as great IMO. I feel Bearing Bones will remain their best album (8.5/10 for me) as it just has a very classic feel and ended up being memorable for me. This album shoots by rather quick with some cool moments but feels less complete as an album and the lack of their prior clean singer hurts them.