“I want the world, I want the whole world!” Their namesake screamed. And for a while in the mid-90s it felt like they might just take it. It’s impossible to mention Veruca Salt without a nod to Seether; one of the greatest tracks of the 90s. The garage band anthem with the pop-rock lilt. A zeitgeist bullseye, that somehow became uncomfortable, it felt from the rest of that debut album that the band would rather tread a more experimental path. The band seemed to lose their way around the millennium, unsure on whether to chase pop-rock success or prove their indie credentials, and faded from view…
Now in 2015, they’re back! Ghost Notes is the partially crowd-funded return, over 20 years after Seether. With competition like Sleater-Kinney already setting the bar extremely high for female fronted 90s rock band reunions this year, how will Veruca Salt fare?
Pretty well it seems, this is going to be a welcome return. Through the opening riffs of “The Gospel According To Saint Me” and its “It’s Gonna Get Loud / It’s Gonna Get Heavy” refrain, you know introspection is out. In its place: rock. Big slabs of in-yer-face rock.
With the distinctive twin lead vocals, big riffs and fast pace on every track, it feels that instead of growing up and mellowing, Veruca Salt have stripped the sound right back. It’s like visiting good friends you haven’t seen for years: you may be expecting a sophisticated dinner party, but you’ll end up listening to AC/DC and shooting tequila until 4 in the morning.
High points are “Prince of Wales” with its dream pop opening backing the riffs as they kick their way into the song. “I remember it all, do you?” they ask – well it’s been a while, but frankly it wasn’t as polished as this. “Laughing In The Sugar Bowl” enters with another swaggeringly huge riff, and then… gets even bigger. “Love You Less” is a new wave gem so Californian you can imagine the Go-Gos are on the maracas. It’s a strong album. Although while there are no missteps, there’s not a huge amount of variety either.
Veruca Salt are poppier and slicker than you remember. It’s one of those albums that will have you clearing your calendar for the forthcoming tour, I can’t wait to hear this live.