Crowd noise and the sound of a peanut vendor selling his wares welcome us as we step into the opening bars of “Fourth and Clay,” the new single from The Vics out this coming March 8th everywhere that independent music is sold and streamed. The ambiance is soon broken up in a skipping beat driven by a rollicking clean guitar and spicy overdriven lead, both of which carve out some room for the vocals to drown everything within earshot in a minor key melodicism that is chic and urbane. In the first few verses, the nauseating vortex of instrumentation is powerful and ensnaring, but as we’ll soon discover in the chorus, The Vics didn’t want to merely engage us on an audiological level in this song, which is the first of two all-new singles they’re releasing this month.
Sparks fly both at the start and at the conclusion of the chorus in “Fourth and Clay,” and their kaleidoscopic textures aren’t muffled by this burly master mix in the slightest. The track fades away in much less dramatic fashion than it opens up with, but I found the temptation to listen to the song all over again simply too strong to resist, as was the situation when I first gave “Proud” a go. “Proud” gets rolling with the same eccentric swing that marked “Fourth and Clay” with a rigidity that is surprisingly sensuous when festooned with The Vics’ light and bubbly tonality, and slowly blossoms into an emotive ballad over the course of its three and a half minutes of running time.
The contrasting instrumental elements in this second single are perhaps its most cosmetically endearing points of interest, but I was particularly fascinated by the fluidity of the song despite its broadminded construction. In “Proud,” the drums lurch from behind the vocals, creeping in the shadow of the bassline, just waiting to pounce on us in the chorus, but when we get there, the climax is startlingly relaxed and unurgent. Instead of leaving us frustrated, it’s almost as if The Vics have come up with an entirely new formula in which to connect listeners with the physical nature of their music. There aren’t any assaultive beats or cataclysmic guitar breakdowns to behold here; only artfully-translucent melodies that are as emotionally-charged as the lyrics that they were designed to support are.
Fans of sophisticated alternative rock are going to be really impressed with what they find in “Fourth and Clay” and “Proud,” and though The Vics aren’t close to being the household name that some of their mainstream rivals are, their music is becoming the underground tour de force that the genre needs to regain its once untouchable street cred. The Vics strike me as the kind of band that will spend hours, if not days, in the studio ironing out every explicit detail in a track, and in this devotion to their medium, we as listeners are rewarded with some of the most genuine and natural tones and harmonies available in pop music today. Their story is still being written, but The Vics are embarking on their most exciting chapter yet in these two robustly-composed singles.