Fearless Vampire Killers have always got something to prove. With their latest mini-album Bruises, we see them stepping out of their quiet goth-punk shadows and into the light – let’s just hope it doesn’t blind them!
The record opens with the punchy riff of ‘Feel Alive’, a bouncy track with a blast of succinct lyrics and a to-the-point style that is already miles away from their usual ambitious artistry. The rise and fall of front-man Kier Kemp’s vocals show from the start his impressive range and captivating tone, setting the standard.
That’s not to say he’s the only vocalist in this band who packs a punch; we follow up with ‘Stepping Stones’, fronted by Laurence Beveridge. His soulful style is born from a place of drama and darkness, allowing him to evoke powerful emotions and breathe tangible life into the song; you can almost see the lyrics coming to life. The mention of opium dens show they haven’t lost their eerie supernatural side, a band trademark.
However, Fearless Vampire Killers have clearly stepped back from the epic feel of last album Unbreakable Hearts, stripping themselves bare with Bruises. The meticulous layers and beautiful harmonies in jaunty pop song ‘Keep Smiling’ show they haven’t lost what they learnt from their previous release, but Laurence’s angst-ridden speech partway through is the first hint that this band are trying to reach further than their passionate core fanbase. That said, the lively beat and anthemic chorus have the makings of a great live tune.
We’re lead further down that road with ‘Regret’, which is perhaps the closest Fearless Vampire Killers have ever sounded to “other bands”. With their stand-out vocals, dark metaphors and exceptional production it still has the ‘FVK’ stamp, but this song isn’t about made-up characters and a fictional city, it’s about something we can all identify with. It’s the definite sign of a band branching out.
An often occurrence when a band streamlines their sound is that they inevitably lose something. There are two sides to that coin – on the one hand, we get tunes like ‘Like Bruises’, with a meaty riff and catchy chorus that you’d be hard-pressed to hate. However, on the other hand, we have lost some of the inspired experimentalism that Fearless Vampire Killers have been brave enough to explore in the past, something that compelled some, wowed many, and unarguably put this band a step above the rest.
Fearless Vampire Killers finish off with ‘Aging Love’, an emotional song with overwhelming heart. It’s a typical “Laurence” track, which this band is known and loved for, but they’ve done something different with it this time – they’ve made something real. You don’t have to interpret this song from a concept, or a fictional creation, or an imaginary world; it’s just the real pain of everyday life, and that hits harder than anything.
Fearless Vampire Killers have been somewhat of an acquired taste in the past but, with Bruises, they are finally letting us see beneath the mask of gothic gore, creepy concepts and other-worldly overproduction. But don’t worry guys, they haven’t gone all rainbows and candyfloss on us just yet!