Necessity, as I’m sure you will all be aware, is the mother of invention. And it was the necessity of fashioning a drum kit portable enough to use as part of a band who spent a lot of their time in street busking mode, that gave Violent Femmes drummer Victor DeLorenzo, his sparse and spacious signature sound. And thankfully, even when bigger budgets, better equipped studios and encroaching technologies offered the chance to become better represented in the gear department, he has seemed happy to prove that it ain’t what you do, its the way that you do it and stick to his unique and winning, less is more, approach.
Using layered yet drums sounds, ones garnered from a fairly understated sonic palette, and melodic bass runs as the platform for the music, the instruments which are usually found taking centre stage, guitars and synths, are happy to be relocated to more transitory sounds, their riffs existing more in the middle distance or as fleeting motifs which colour rather than control the musical flow.
And the e.p. as a whole is designed to mesh as a loose collection of stories and interlocking ideas, connected narratives but Tranceaphone is less a concept album, more an album of concepts without any real resolution or concrete conclusions. The stories seem to crawl along the same dark, urban streets that often acted as the backdrop to the likes of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground before that, which seems natural given DeLorenzo’s post-Femmes connection with ex-Velvets via Moe Tucker’s band in the 90’s.
Throw in a touch of David J, especially his recent musical Missive… and perhaps a slice of Talking Heads arty, avant-gardening, not that those weren’t always somewhere in the mix, and you have a wonderful return, one which mixes dark vibes with accessible melodies, alternative poise with perky pop, artiness with accessibility. What more could you ask for?