Friday, May 24, 2013

The White Apple | Of Verona

Of Verona is an up-and-coming electronic/indie band with only one LP release thus far, entitled The White Apple. After hearing one of their songs, "Paint the Pictures," on television, I fell in love with it and have anticipated The White Apple ever since.

Anyone who might consider listening the whole album from start to finish must know that the second half of the albums is generally favorable to the first half, with the exception of a couple tracks.

"Castles" is one of those exceptions. It's the first song on the album, kicking off with a calm, electronic verse, the singer's voice like an indie epitome. I must say that at first, the lyrics don't impress me; they're a little cliche, telling a (rather awkward) story of broken love, but I've definitely heard worse. Despite it all, I admit I did like the lyrics of the chorus, they had more imagery than I would have expected. Really, the chorus is by far the best part of the song (other than the breakdown towards the end of the middle eight). Amid the serious meaning, it's so catchy!

Then, The White Apple become a bit lackluster for the next few tracks. "Match"  may bring me a bit of nostalgia for what ever reason as it builds, but overall, it's not the most memorable altogether. "The Enemy" also falls short of a standout.

The next song is called "Dark in My Imagination," a mellow and intriguing track. Yet again, Of Verona created a relaxing song. But this track is different than the previous songs on The White Apple, and reminds me of why I anticipated this album's release with the use of tranquil vocals layering with an electronically-charged musical direction. Though I certainly prefer it over "Match" and "The Enemy," I'm still not too crazy about it.

The edgier, rock side of the band appears in "Take Me," especially the chorus. Though the signature 'chilled' factor is still there, I just cannot get into it. There's nothing grabbing my attention.

"Centipede" is the fifth song on the album, and I do prefer it to a few of the other previous songs. It's a bit darker than the others, but nothing too melancholy either. The band is still present despite how electronically-charged it is, and I really enjoyed it. But the ending was quite disappointing. Nothing climatic ever happened, and the song seemed to fade out when I was sure it'd build up. At this point, I'm not feeling too positive about this album.

Finally, we have the title track, "The White Apple." Now I really remember my original expectations for this album, even though it took half of the album to get there. This song is mystifying and wonderful and includes the best vocals of the album. Throughout the song, the usage of piano and strings really blow this one out of the water, sending a chill or two down my arms as the song grows. I am immediately in love. Then, the music changes, becomes more upbeat and jazzy. Honestly, the transition could have been done MUCH better, or they could have cut this part of the song altogether, but I still adore the song despite that. The repeating lines of this section, "White noise white noise white noise screamin' in my ear!" will stay in one's head for a while, despite that part doesn't last very long. (Keep in mind that those lines are not the best example of the well-crafted lyrics, nor is it even close to being the best part of the song.) Yet again, the song changes into a piano/vocal section before gradually moving back into the fuller sound it had amounted to earlier, and then reverting back to the original, haunting vibe. This is definitely the masterpiece of The White Apple; it's no wonder that they named the album after this track.

"Unique in its Madness" follows, and though it's likeable, it's kind of dull in comparison to "The White Apple." The band returns to being more upbeat, but this time they get a little jazzy with the piano line. Though it's not bad, I still find myself wanting something more.

I get what I ask for with "Paint the Pictures," the song that led me to discover Of Verona. It's the ninth track, and it certainly stands out amongst the other songs. Not that it doesn't fit, because it does, it's just quite a bit better than the others. It's a ballad, drenched in melancholy and lyrically superior, especially in the vivid and relatable chorus: "Send me on my way, I'm drifting out of here/ Into outer space, I've found a place out there." Though it's consistently mellow, it really expands in the middle eight, slowly crescendoing to a point of climax and quickly dying back down to its original volume. The contrast is perfectly crafted; the whole song is sad and spectacular.

Next, listeners will encounter "We Are Not Alone Here," which is another standout. Unlike the others, the electronic elements are used in a funky way. It's bouncy, vibrant. Even though this song is completely different than "Paint the Pictures" in the sense that it's happier and more upbeat, it has a similar atmospheric quality. Something about the instrumentation reminds me of Shiny Toy Guns, particularly "Somewhere to Hide."

Then, the albums slows down a bit for another ballad. This one is called "Raining," and it's led by a pretty piano part. The chorus adapts to the generally atmospheric vibe of the past two songs, but then more layers of instruments are added later on. More than anything, I was enthusiastic about the outro; it's gorgeous! It's only the piano and the singer's voice, but then I run into my only issue. It gets vocally ramblesome. It doesn't end comfortably. But, nevertheless, I still really love this song.

The albums concludes with "They Will Fall Like Roses," which is another personal favorite. It has everything I like about Of Verona with its dark, beautiful electronic sound, and smooth vocals. Though it starts out as more of a ballad, it picks up in the second verse, adding drums and guitars. This addition really worked well; it made the song more three-dimensional. The whole thing is a modern symphony of sorts (and I suppose that can be said about The White Apple in general), and it ends the album on a great note.

Fans of mainstream, indie, and alternative need to check out this album. Of Verona is one of the most relaxing bands I've come across as of late, but that doesn't mean it won't leave listeners enthusiastic. Is every single song a perfect masterpiece? No, there are some songs that don't quite stand out, but when Of Verona's good, they're good.

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