Name off a list of the most influential bands ever. I’m sure you started with The Beatles. The Beach Boys? Agreed. How about The Velvet Underground and Black Sabbath? In their respective fields of endeavor, they could not be disregarded. Yet there is one band that doesn’t immediately come up, but once invoked stirs nods of agreement.
From the more reflective sides of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to late-period Teenage Fanclub, the pop side of The Seventy Sevens and hordes of bands in love with the sound of a jangly Ric, The Byrds were standing tall, and their immediate acolytes have subsequently influenced other bands.
You can hear that love in the music of The Vapour Trails on their latest, the forebodingly titled See You In The Next World. Never fear, this Aberdeen-based group is not into the dirges, but instead temper the bright sound of those guitars with a wistfulness more at home in the now than then.
Scott Robertson, Kevin Robertson, Nicholas Mackie, Andrew Crossan, and Kenny Munro comprise the band on this outing, and while they may share the same country as Glasgow’s own, Teenage Fanclub, they’re no clone by any stretch. The record eases right in from the start with “Sonic Wave” and the Zombies-winking “On A Nearby Bay.”
Standout tracks include “Shatter The Sky” in the center of the collection, deftly busting in sophisticated stabs of fuzz guitar along with a tasty ’70s era guitar solo (man, do I miss those…) between acoustic strums and carefully placed vocal harmonies. “You, With Love” in particular wears its McGuinn love on its paisley printed sleeve.
The lovely “Written In The Breeze” precedes the closing track, from which the album gets its name. Underpinned with a piano line which keeps the track moving to the finish line, there is a level of restraint at play that is admirable. There are many bands I could name with little effort that would have taken all the elements and just hammered them in anywhere a hole was present. The song is good on its own, but the care that was offered to the arrangement levels it up three more notches.
Don’t call it retro (it isn’t, really) and don’t let the finer touches baked into the final product escape you. The Vapour Trails’ See You In The Next World is a record that sounds deceptively effortless but deserves your effort in giving it a try. It does their influences (and their influences’ influences) proud.