If The Violet Nines wander a sonic world bordered by infectious alt-pop melodies, funky rhythms, bluesy licks and sultry soul grooves, it is to the latter sound that they lean on this latest release. It also oozes with a slightly retro sound, echoing some of the soul revivals of the ’80s and ’90s that found their way into the more mainstream and chart bound releases of the time. But not in a plagiaristic and backward glancing sort of way, merely reminding us that there are certain classic sounds which, when done right never go out of fashion. The Violet Nines do them right.
The result is the coolest slice of soulful pop that you will have heard in a long time. But even using the term pop, though the song does tick all of the boxes of that genres and more besides, seems to belittle what is going on here. This is no throwaway piece of chart fooder, Can We Go is a song with longevity running through its DNA and that is because not only is it gloriously accessible and easy on the listener’s ear, it is also built out of honesty, authenticity and great song-writing.
Basslines groove and beats keep everything tethered and tidy which means that the other elements are free to explore. Keyboards chime and emphasise, guitars flick and skit breezily through and a saxophone breaks through into its own spotlight moment. But two things really make this track stand out, the arrangement of the song and Hayley Lewis’s excellent vocals.
The former is a master class in space and dynamics, gently adding weight and texture when needed or taking the foot off of the gas to create negative sonic space and room for atmospheres to form and percolate and allow contrast. The latter is an exercise in serving the song, her vocals being controlled and confident, hazy and harmonic, sweet and soaring as required.
And the song comes wrapped up in a great video, part fun narrative, part live performance and part conventional promotion. Throw in some cool visual effects and trippy creativity and you have the perfect package. A very listenable (to the point of being addictive) song and a watchable and entertaining video.
It may be an odd thing to say but The Violet Nines don’t make music or videos that are about them. They make music and videos that they are in, are the creators and instigators of, but it is always about what is being made, it is all about serving the song or the video, never about the ego. There’s no showboating, no upstaging, no limelight moments…just creative people being truly creative. And in this world of selfies and socials and people living their lives for the approval of others, that is a very rare thing indeed. I think what I am trying to say is that the coolest people are the ones who never have to try to be cool! The Violet Nines are cool! Very cool indeed.