Friday 1 May 2020

Vilivant - Never Again (2020)

Country: Canada
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 24 Apr 2020
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | YouTube

Here's an interesting debut EP from a young lady somewhere in Ontario with a single name, Vilivant. It's probably best described as hard rock, but that's perhaps misleading. Her sound is very focused on her vocals, which are tough but melodic, and that leads to comparisons to artists I wouldn't describe as hard rock at all. Insert your favourite pop singer/songwriter here. I heard Natalie Imbruglia, especially on the regular version of Take Me Home and the acoustic version of Stabilized, but you may well hear someone else.

Her given influences are singers like Lzzy Hale and Taylor Momsen, which is hardly surprising. The intensity level of both the music and her voice is in between the two, easily lighter than Halestorm but quite a bit heavier than the Pretty Reckless. It's a good midpoint to find, because it allows her a lot of opportunity for contrast, quietening down to ballad softness and then ramping up for emphasis, even if she never gets into shouty territory, thank goodness. Her vocals remain clean throughout, whatever the emphasis.

The six tracks on offer boil down to four songs, as both Stabilized and Take Me Home appear twice, the duplicates respectively an acoustic version and an alternate take that's longer and much heavier than what I'm thinking of as a single version, even though it's Never Again and Stabilized that made it to separate release. Frankly, the other two could easily follow suit.

And this seems odd to me. It's hardly unusual to issue an EP before a studio album, especially for a debuting artist, but all four of these songs are top notch and it would seem strange for Vilivant to have four solid songs in her repertoire but nothing else. There are successful albums out there with much more filler than would be needed to pad this up to full length. And if she's got more material like this waiting for release, who says filler is needed?

I find it difficult not to like these songs. They're not particularly deep, but they're all catchy pop/alt rock anthems that are set up right and built well. And, while Vilivant is clearly a dominant focus throughout, the music behind her does a good job of supporting her. There are even good solos to take a brief moment away from the front lady. The lyrical themes don't particularly connect with me as an Englishman coming up on, crap, half a century, but I'm not the target audience. She's pitching to teenage girls worrying about self worth and they should lap this up. I'm not one of them and I still like what Vilivant does.

However, I'm going to have to talk about her exclusively here as I'm unable to find a single slice of information on anyone else in what I presume is a band. There are photos out there with her playing bass, but her music videos have a full band behind her: a guitarist, a bass player and a drummer, just as you might expect. I have no idea who any of them are or even whether they count as actual band members or just session musicians hired for a video.

Whoever's in the band and whether there is a band or just Vilivant the solo artist, this sounds good. I'd like to hear a lot more. How about that album?

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