“For now let’s just say this: hatchets buried, axes exhumed” – These were the words that delighted die-hard fans when Veruca Salt posted to Facebook back in March of 2013. As band reunion announcements go, it’s fairly subtle. Still, it was enough to bring on a string of enthusiastic comments. Long story short, Veruca Salt are back. Not only are they back, all four original members have returned.
After settling back in with some reunion shows, the band announced their new album in May of this year. This would be the band’s first effort with the original lineup since 1997’s ‘Eight Arms To Hold You’. Now, Veruca Salt return with ‘Ghost Notes’, out now on El Camino Records.
It seems that with the return of the original lineup comes the return of the original sound. By no means is ‘Ghost Notes’ a carbon copy of the band’s debut ‘American Thighs’, but it’s clear that this lineup have their own signature sound. A lot of that signature sound comes from the vocal harmonies of Louise Post and Nina Gordon. Since Gordon’s departure in 1998, Post had, for the most part, been holding the fort on her own.
Opening with a lo-fi bass line and into a classic riff, ‘The Gospel According To Saint Me’ welcomes us back into the world of Veruca Salt quite successfully. Almost as if you’re reunited with an old friend you hadn’t seen in years. The general feel of this album isn’t as gritty and heavy as the first two. Their sound has matured, yet they still retain that original quality that made us love them in the first place.
After allowing you to re-familiarise yourself with the band for the first few tracks, ‘Prince of Wales’ comes in with steady instrumentation. This track is perhaps where Gordon and Post show off their harmonies – which certainly haven’t declined during their time apart. The track alternates between calm, steady verses and heavy, vibrant choruses. Veruca Salt don’t spend too much time on the soft side. They manage to find the perfect balance between the gentle and the punchy. This seems to be a running theme throughout the album.
‘Empty Bottle’ is another example of how the band finds that balance. The track opens with a repeated guitar note, accompanied by a somewhat more intricate bass line. Soon, gentle vocals from Post come in, almost a whisper. This heartfelt track doesn’t stay like this for too long, however. Just over a minute and a half in, distorted guitars come in once again. Put together with screaming vocals from both Post and Gordon, the track keeps you on your toes throughout. After alternating between the verses and choruses, the track slows down with an acoustic section and vocals from Nina Gordon, and then ends on a final chord.
More tracks pass by and before you know it, all fourteen songs have gone by. The track ‘Alternica’ is the perfect album closer. It embodies everything Veruca Salt are about, and leaves you feeling completely satisfied with the album as a whole. Some don’t manage to create a successful comeback album, but Veruca Salt definitely have. The four have managed to mature their sound, without drifting too far from the original band we know and love.
‘Ghost Notes’, out now on El Camino Records. The full track-listing for the album is…