The new album ‘The Sky is Blue’ is a glorious collection of antipodean indie pop vignettes from Brisbane outfit The Valery Trails – an album that is anthemic and bold.
With a euphoric use of horns and a jingle jangle pop swing, opening track ‘Jaisalmer’ recalls the anthemic glory of fellow Brisbanites The Saints in their later, more melodic life. The track is dynamic and pulse quickening with a cool indie swagger and a joyful, indelible chorus.
Andrew Bower, singer/guitars, says:
The first verse popped into my head while I was traveling through India and wouldn’t go away. I think it was my songwriting brain processing the chaos and sensory overload of India. I took some time to flesh out the lyrics, adding a second and third verse reflecting the travelling state of mind I was in, with the last line directly referencing my surroundings.
The horns add a certain golden filigree to the track. Bower says:
We resisted the temptation to add layers of fuzz and feedback like we often do, and added a horn section, which we have never done before. Once we heard the song with the horns (by Terminus Horns from Atlanta, Georgia) it was hard to imagine the song without them!
There is a heady whirl about the track: restless and energizing with a fuzzy undercurrent.
‘See Me Fall’ turns up the fuzz: a thunderous wall of sound softened by glorious harmonies.
‘Zancudo’ confirms their prowess at creating an indelible sweet pop sound.
Expansive multi-layered vocals create a heavenly chorus that is redolent of Teenage Fanclub in a tryst with The Byrds, while the wall of jingle jangle guitars create a shimmering foundation that recalls The Go-Betweens and REM. But The Valery Trails only tip a hat to these influences: they have carved out something of their own: an antipodean-flavoured bubbling effervescence that is captivating.
Bower wrote the song after a spontaneous trip to Costa Rica (pre-pandemic) where he and his family rented a beachside cabin in Playa Zancudo, an intriguing little fishing community way down near the Panama border.
The song is an exercise in capturing the spirit and mood of a place and its people. I’m always drawn to “end of the earth” locations, partly because you meet interesting people there who tend to have fascinating stories about how they got there, so I wanted to try and write about that.
The title track is a gorgeous expansive journey filled with a cheery optimism and glorious back vocals – imbued with a jingle jangle spine and rolling, cyclical riffs. It’s one of those songs that raises the hairs on the back of your neck. A truly epic anthem that is bold and statuesque that recalls the majesty of The Triffids at their best.
The momentum continues with ‘There But For The Grace’ – Bower’s vocals are brittle and delicate, the guitars etching delicate trails in the air – and ‘These Times’ jangles with an intensity – a hypnotic drone that creates a dreamy fugue. The jangling guitars form the undercurrent to ‘Make More Mistake’, which sees The Valery Trails channel a more indie folk sound – an Australian diction and power that recalls Redgum.
‘Maybe’ introduces a more muscular guitar, leavened by the sweet backing vocals, before gliding into into the pop drive of ‘Sometimes’ with its Status Quo rock poses.
Final track ‘After The Show’ has a delicate rawness with the return of the jangle and an injection of melancholy.
‘The Sky Is Blue’ is a beautiful collection of acutely personal reflections delivered with an optimistic grace and stature, empowered by an inherent power and muscularity. It is the sum of many precious parts, reflecting an international perspective gained from travels, but grounded in something very antipodean and raw. It is out now and available through all the usual streaming services here and through the link below:
Feature Photograph: Markus Ravik