News: Viji’s debut album is far from “Vanilla”

The Breakdown

Speedy Wunderground 9.0

Austrian-Brazilian artist Viji, released her debut album, So Vanilla, on Speedy Wunderground on 27th October. A contemporary of Heartworms and Pretty Sick and others currently on the London Scene, Viji, real name Vanilla Jenner, has been causing quite a stir with her brand of riff laden layered guitar melodies on the slower end of Sonic Youth spectrum, paired with alt-pop hooks and slow, soulful soliloquies. Her vocal delivery tied with that 90s grunge-pop sound makes for a really captivating and concise listen – tracks rarely break the 3-minute mark, but not at the expense of good song writing – it’s full of huge choruses and riff-heavy earworms.

Completed in November 2022, with producer Dan Carey (Fontaines DC, Kae Tempest, Wetleg and Slowthai) at the controls, the 12 songs bounce along borrowing from the likes of The Cardigans/Primitives, Lush and Liz Phair.

Opening track Anything takes it further than Meatloaf was prepared to do, as Viji declares her seemingly unrequited love for persons unknown. It’s the simple flanged choppy guitar that under pins her softly lilting voice, almost dreamlike, dragging you through to the other side.

Down instantly evokes Liz Phair vibes, circa her Whip-Smart period and is simply beautiful. It is a welcome deviation from all the generic auto-tuned shite that is around.

Sedative threatens to invade Wet Leg territory, but she bulldozes a by-pass through that premise. These songs could have easily been locked away in a time capsule 25 years ago, now blinking like a new born in the daylight as they’re exposed to the world. Borrowing heavily from even further back, the 60’s to be precise and Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks, Sundress In Pink is a gentle late evening meander through a summer meadow before getting down and dirty with the scuzzy bass driven Karaoke, with Viji claiming “that counter culture is her baby”. There’s an underlying sexual tension pushing it’s way to the surface as the subject of the song is prodded and poked into life. Think Prodigy “Smack My Bitch Up.”

Blanket, sounds like an absent minded late night strum, until the cello take over, nudging it into a darker place, almost Moldy Peach-like.

Sharks takes it up a notch, Helen Love meets Shonen Knife and weighing it in just over 130 seconds, is the shortest track but all the more perfect for it!

Slip Out Quiet could be my theme song and is pure indie soft rock-pop. Say Hi takes a trip hop beat and rams a red hot core of Sonic Youth groove through the middle of it.
The album closer Ambien, is another sedative reference, a short term treatment for insomnia, and I’m reminded in part of Summer On The Underground by late 90’s indie rockers A, but slowed down to 33 1/3rpm.

A really solid debut from someone I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from. With a few tour supports under her belt, a headline tour beckons and next summers festivals should see her fly. Definitely not Vanilla.

1. Anything
2. Down
3. Sedative
4. Sundress In Pink
5. Karaoke
6. Blanket
7. Sharks
8. Slip Out Quiet
9. 1850
10. Say Hi
11. White Lighter
12. Ambien

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