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It seems fitting for this album to come out right as summer is winding down. VIVIELLE’s debut album, “Time Falls Apart,” comes through with a mellow take on indie-rock. VIVIELLE has been around for a little less than two years and consists of Nathaniel Harvie on guitar and lead vocals, Lino Rauzi on bass and Joe Rauzi on drums and percussion. Rosalie Uggla fills out the band with additional vocals. Age wise, the band is pretty young. I didn’t check their IDs when I saw them live once, but they seem like they’re fresh out of high school, if that. This puts them amongst a handful of musicians and bands in their age group who are active in the Twin Ports music scene.
VIVIELLE’s sound is fairly minimalistic on this album but they manage to carry a certain energy that is undeniable. There is occasionally a drum fill, a guitar solo and even some parts that feature the xylophone but the instruments stay rather pulled back. This works out because the instruments don’t out shine what is the main driving force of the band, which would be the vocal dynamics between Harvie and Uggla. If it were just one or the other singing, the band would still probably be alright, but it’s the combination of voices that really add something special.
The vocal harmonies and designated parts really pull together this album, but just as important are the lyrics. Lyrics can be a hit and miss thing with any album and from any artist. I end up hearing a lot of lyrics in albums where I wish they were a little more hard hitting or the lyrics from some artists acknowledge hard times but then often reveal a silver lining in the course of a song or album. There is a certain numbness in the lyrics and vocals on this album. It’s not a whiny emotional washout, but there is something there that is far from content.
There isn’t really an exact catalyst of why the lyrics are less than happy and they stay rather abstract. It’s not like they ever go out and say something like, “there was this girl (or guy) and I really had some feelings and now they’re all smashed and I’m sad about that.” There’s a little bit of a mystery to what’s going on. In the song, “Shoes,” Harvie starts the song off about how his shoes hurt his feet and his shirt hurts his arms because they are “too tight.” A verse towards the end hints that there is something more than a wardrobe problem going on, “I don’t wake up in the morning/cause I don’t go to bed at night/And if I could sleep I wouldn’t be here/But I’m fine. I swear to god I’m fine…I’m fine.” Sleep, either being asleep or trying to sleep, is a common theme in the album.
While the lyrics keep from getting too specific, they sink in enough that they somehow can be related to. On the song, “Down,” lyrics like, “and I think I’m no longer in pieces/but I know I’m not whole,” and, “I used to think if I let go it would mean I was dead/And I wouldn’t be able to hear the songs in my head/I used to think my reflection had the power to look away/but he can’t do it, at least not today.” I speculate that there is a little teen angst in the lyrics and that seems to work out well.
The vocal delivery really lays out the kind of sullen feel of this album. Harvie and Uggla’s vocals are often calm and collected throughout. They gain with intensity at times in the choruses and although the singing can be pretty, they sound a little bummed out and this creates something that is somehow fascinating. There’s not a track on the album where one can say, “oh, this is the happy song.”
One thing that I felt was a little risky but I kind of like about this album is that there are a few spots where the listener is made conscious about the recording and I’m guessing this was on purpose. The beginning of the song, “Shoes,” starts out with a riff and then stops as if there were some kind of mistake and then it finally begins into the song. There are other things like making a countdown in the middle of a song that are a somewhat unusual for a final recording. These things add a little bit of vulnerability to the album which seems to hold up with the overall feel and it doesn’t necessarily detract from what’s going on.
The recording and production of the album is like the instruments, it is modest and effective. I feel that maybe adding some multi-tracked layers of vocals wouldn’t have hurt, but they stuck to pretty much what the band sounds like live except in a more controlled setting. The album was mixed and mastered by the experienced local engineers Brian Ring and Kenan McIntyre.
The fact that this band isn’t in your face makes them actually stand out more. Every show is different, but when I saw them live the audience’s reaction is to shut up and listen and I’ll call that a good thing. The band creates a powerful experience without making it ever seem like they’re trying to.