Big beats come spilling out of the speakers at the onset of “Map the Channels,” the first track in Songs for Birds and Bats, the new EP from acclaimed indie rockers doubleVee, and they’re soon met with a lively electric guitar melody that will shape the emotional context for the words soon to follow. The mix has defined all of the subtle lines in the instrumentation, and yet Allan Vest and his wife Barb are harmonizing in an equilibrium like two long-lost twins with an ear for pop melodicism. Our hearts synchronize with the rhythm of the track, and as we fade into the jarring grooves of “Ladder for the People,” one thing becomes undeniable for anyone who has heard the music of doubleVee before; this might be the band that made waves with The Moonlit Fables of Jack the Rider, but they’re not even close to the same artists that they were two years ago. They’ve evolved.
“Ladder for the People” swings really hard, and though its chorus is riddled with a somewhat confusing punk rock demeanor in the eye of a harmonious pop hurricane, it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the music in the least. “Goldstar Redux” starts off similarly to its predecessor, but rather than chasing after the gargantuan club grooves, it rejects them completely and embraces an atmospheric, and somewhat ominous, strut of the bassline instead. This might be my favorite song from doubleVee so far, but it isn’t an isolated case of crisp crooning and spindly string play in the tracklist of the record.
“Landlord of the Flies” is an ambient pop tune that wants to be a lot more progressive than its angular craftwork would allow for it to ever be, and while it’s framed in post-punk surrealism, it contains one of the sharpest hooks that you’ll hear in Songs for Birds and Bats. A slinky little cosmopolitan groove penetrates the track midway through the song and wraps around us like a blanket on a cold night, but the sparkling synths still manage to garner the lion’s share of our attention as we near the exotic conclusion of the song. This track probably encapsulates the spirit of Songs for Birds and Bats better than the others do, but it isn’t the only reason why I’d tell you to pick this record up the next time you’re in the market for hot new music.
With a heavy-handed acoustic strum and a vocal that espouses utterly pristine harmonies in the chorus, “Last Castaways” caps off our latest sit-down with the incomparable doubleVee, and in its stacked textures and aching melodies, I hear shades of the Vaselines, Robyn Hitchcock and even a little bit of The Long Winters, but make no mistake about it – the sound is unmistakably doubleVee’s and doubleVee’s alone. They’re developing into one of the more interesting alternative rock bands in their scene on this record, and while I’ve absolutely heard some incredible albums, singles and EPs this year that have matched the caliber of content that Songs for Birds and Bats imparts to us, this release is definitely a breakthrough moment for its creators, and deserves to be celebrated as such.