Review: Vir – Gillespie

Vir are a trio from San Francisco who conjure up an almighty racket on their second album. Taking their cues from shoegaze, post-punk and – by my reckoning – a smidgen of Guns N’ Roses’ bluster, their music is gloriously unsubtle, sludgy rock that packs a huge punch.

The lead-off track ‘Down By Law’ is almost overwhelmed by distortion whilst the frontman Sam Sloane snarls aggressively over the top. ‘Lux’ is full of epic, skyscraping guitars; like an effects-driven version of Simple Minds’ “big music” era whereas ‘Tele’ unearths their post-punk influences with glum atmospherics very much to the fore.

The mighty rhythm section of drummer Jeff Paul and bassist Natasha Arens is consistently impressive but Sloane’s vocals can err towards the overly theatrical; potentially undermining the grand gestures of the otherwise well-executed title track and ‘Protection’. The album ends on a high note, though, with ‘Bail Out’, where all band members seem to combine their talents into a unified goal; Sloane in particular toning down his dramatics to the croon of a disaffected warrior.

‘Gillespie’ may scare off traditional shoegazers but this record provides the muscular presence the genre is so often criticised for lacking. Whether it adds anything new to the past work of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or Sisters Of Your Sunshine Vapor, however, is a more debatable point.

Web Sites:
Vir Official Site
Vir MySpace

Further Listening:
Sisters Of Your Sunshine Vapor, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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