As one half of the songwriting team behind 1980’s alternative act The Lucy Show, Robert Vandeven can lay claim to being in a proto-shoegazing act. For their layered guitar sound and poppy melodies arguably formed a reference point from which future dreampop stars would be inspired by. With his erstwhile bandmate Mark Bandola now recording as Typewriter, Vandeven himself has released his first solo record.
Light undemanding fare like ‘Cloud Number Nine’, ‘Lover And Friend’ and the sprightly electro-pop of ‘Baby You’re A Star’ sound like the work of a much younger man but they all (the latter in particular) seem strangely dated. However pleasant these songs are, it would be hard not to be disappointed by the lack of adventure from a respected artist on the alternative scene.
Thankfully Vandeven stirs himself for the superb ‘Ships’. Set to some modern, minimalist beats, Vandeven’s half-whispered threat is both menacing and energising. It reminds me a lot of ‘Mirror’, the standout track from Section 25’s recent comeback album. Just as chilling and effective are ghostly trip-hop detour ‘Sometimes Naked’ and the insistent digital pulse and African rhythms which underscore ‘Last Night In Spain’.
‘Lost Days’ is a very varied album in terms of both style and quality. Yet the lesson here is simple. The more Vandeven experiments and embraces his advancing years, the more memorable his music becomes.
Robert Vandeven MySpace
The Lucy Show, Section 25