It’s been a busy couple of years for south Londoner Dan Shears & The Velveteen Orkestra; with acclaimed 2010 EP ‘The Eternal Mystery of The Human Heart’, supporting Charlene Soraia on her UK tour, alongside a tour of their own material. To top this off, their latest 5 track EP is released on the 24th September.
Fans of DS&VO’s 2010 release may be a little surprised by ‘Against a Sea of Troubles’. It is an EP that showcases a new perspective and a more mature focus in the production. This maturity presents itself most in the instrumental arrangement; with elegant and atmospheric uses of the mandolin, piano, clarinet, mellotron, string and accordion, which envelopes each song and successfully blends the orchestral and folk influences. The tracks emphasising the talent of the musicians, are the single ‘In The Shadows of Better Men’, ‘The Devil’s Favourite Love Story’ and the final, hidden track. The vocals have a powerful resemblance to Muse’s Matt Bellamy and whether this is a deliberate nod to the vocalist or not, they seem to distract away from the individuality of the EP. Russian folk infused ‘Petrushka’ is the main culprit, with epic, cinematic overtones within the instrumentation, but vocals that seem out of place and instead verge on pretentious.
Overall, comparing this to the 2010 EP, there are two distinct styles and stories that show the variety that listeners can expect from the 2013 album release. However, whether this presents inconsistencies when tracks from both are collated on an album, is another story.