Artist: of Verona
Album: The White Apple
Release Date: 10 July 2012
Reviewer: Zaq Baker – Top 100/Alt Genre Director
Review Date: 23 January 2013
In their most recent release, of Verona showcases their extraordinary aptitude for creating and exploring a variety of musical crossroads. The White Apple, their ambitious follow-up to 2011’s Fall Like Roses EP, demonstrates the band’s exceptional ability to seamlessly combine the best elements of a number of styles and genres. Frontwoman Mandi Perkins’ vocal delivery, for example, consistently showcases confidence and talent throughout the album. Her buoyant, memorable vocal lines are guided by a rare combination of raw ability and artistic vision, as exemplified in the fourth track, “Dark in My Imagination.” In it, Perkins channels a number of divergent feelings, vocally capturing intense emotions and reflecting them back to the listener with both passion and articulation. The lyrics themselves are founded on genuine emotion and experience, incorporating heartfelt sentiment; Perkins addresses her listeners earnestly and with arresting honesty. For instance, in “Unique In Its Madness,” Perkins uses the backdrop of a troubled relationship as the springboard to delve into her own emotions and intellect.
The band’s knack for combination, though, doesn’t stop with Perkins’ lyrics. In The White Apple, of Verona effortlessly fuses the best aspects of alternative and pop music, resulting in a cleanly produced, deadly-catchy collection of vivacious, intrepid gems. For example, the album’s third track, “The Enemy,” initially disavows predictability entirely: the instrumental introduction incorporates an ominous, Civil War-esque snare pattern overlaid with dark, restless guitar tones and ambient, echoey electronic effects, channeling a gloomy mood far more reminiscent of a melancholy sci-fi film score than of a modern rock outfit’s single. As the song builds, however, it fluently integrates pop tradition, demonstrating intelligence and complexity—all without sacrificing an ounce of accessibility. The arc of “The Enemy” features powerful, emotive strings and a strong backbeat, as well as a pensive piano and an assortment of bright synths. Throughout the album, the band smoothly captures a forward-thinking vibe that reflects and maximizes the emotions Perkins discusses, whether they are rooted in personal struggle, stories of relationships or dialogues on other emotional topics.
Stylistically, of Verona merges four-piece rock pragmatics and punch with bold, intelligent futurism. Verses in “Centipede,” for example, are marked by nuanced, adventurous guitar and synth noodling—inspired, perhaps, by the recent work of Crystal Castles or Two Door Cinema Club—superimposed over clean, heavy electronic drum kits—this time, similar to Bjork. The verses of “We Are Not Alone Here,” conversely, is comprised of long chords of cavernous pads and patterns—a possible nod to The XX—with choruses that reflect the classic pop sensibility of decades past. Transitions from verse to refrain and back demonstrate both technical proficiency and innovation; choruses deliver the power of a full band’s sound, bolstered by explosive synthesizer melodies and massive vocal lines. The result with every song on the record is a juicy wall of blissful, heavy noise that evades categorization and is downright impossible to dislike.