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BOTW Album Review: Vondelpark – Seabed

There are a lot of things that are quite provocative about Vondelpark. For a start their debut full-length, Seabed, is coming out on R&S: yes, techno with the black horse. But, Vondelpark sure as hell aren’t techno. In fact, their debut record is about as far as you could get from Berghain-friendly 150 BPM. They’re instrument-wielding rouges amongst the cohort of usual R&S suspects…

Vondelpark also aren’t as new as one might assume. Their two previous EPs – 2010′s Sauna and 2011′s NYC Stuff and NYC Bags – were both well received but it would definitely seem that Seabed is the project that will truly break the ice. On listening to Seabed, you would be forgiven for thinking that Vondelpark is a solo project – the songs are minimal and each feels lovingly well-crafted – but Vondelpark is in fact a collaborative project, fronted by Lewis Rainsbury alongside childhood friends, Alex Bailey and Matt Law.

Seabed is certainly a neat little debut. Versatile, light, heavy, dark and engaging, Vondelpark seem to be worthy of the whispers that have circulated leading up to its release. Opener ‘Quest’ is almost hymnal in nature, a suitably ceremonial beginning to the journey Seabed takes you on. The first single to be released off the album ‘California Analog Dream‘ stands out as a track poised to be a centre-pole for many a person’s summer soundtrack. Lazy, laid-back lyrics are carried gently along by the rippling drums; it’s bedroom pop; it’s built for the headphones; it’s personal.

Rainsbury’s voice and tone seem to change with each song, adapting to the nature of the tune being produced And it works. While viewed in its entirety, Seabed sits firmly in the realm of lo-fi indie pop; tracks such as ‘Always Forever’ or ‘Seabed’ wouldn’t be too out of place on a How to Dress Well release, using elements of electronica and synth-inflected drones to float over a beat that isn’t a million miles away from R&B. ‘Dracula’ is a wonderful symphony of sound, dark but not oppressively so. Towards the end, the album takes a new turn in the form of ‘Bananas (On My Biceps)’, which – although it undoubtedly wins the award for Most Stupid and Annoying Song Title – is a nice diversion on the album, bringing the tempo up a little.

In short, Vondelpark are very good. They may not yet be the Alt-J or Bombay Bicycle Club of 2013, but give them a shot and they just might be.

- Liz Ward

Vondelpark’s debut album, Seabed, is available now on R&S.

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