After two adequate but strictly generic and frankly similar-sounding albums, to say that I was surprised by Buried in Verona’s direction on Notorious is an understatement.
Two years ago their songs were some of the most odious tough-guy posturing rubbish outside of gangster rap. Following some sweeping line-up changes, they’re now doing love songs and power ballads and making music that’s much less cookie-cutter. It’s quite a dramatic difference, and while there’s an overall feeling that the band is still throwing stuff to the wall to see what sticks here as they jump around in various directions, Notorious is certainly the most interesting and original album they’ve come up with so far.
They haven’t wimped out of course. First track “Maybe Next Time” is an aggressive beatdown aimed at a foe of the band and there are subsequent bursts of anger and spite throughout. But rather than pile on a relentless onslaught of confused angst and samey-sounding breakdowns and mosh grooves like in the past, BIV breaks it up with space and melody that was previously all but absent. Here and there they actually sound a little like Dream On, Dreamer, but less syrupy and processed, while at others there is a less-technical Periphery-style djent vibe going on, particularly in the second half of the album. There’s humour too, in the shape of the big dumb drinking song “Couldn’t Give 34 Fucks” that is no doubt going to be a favourite.
The more emotional side of the band is perhaps the biggest surprise here. After all, this is a group who called one of their songs “Hangin’ Hoes by Their Toes” on their last album. “LionHeart” is a slice of melodic indie rock genius that transcends everything they have done so far, showing a true pop sensibility that has until now laid, um, buried.
Notorious isn’t perfect, and it’s obvious that Buried in Verona is still fitting into their new musical identity, but it’s refreshing to see them really going outside the box and push themselves well beyond the comfort zone in which they were previously entrenched. It’s a shame the lyric sheet has so many spelling mistakes and grammatical errors (“The Descent” is spelt “The Decent” and someone’s added apostrophes to every word with an “s” at the end – as a writer, this seriously annoys me) as it takes the shine off an otherwise professional package. Buried in Verona has a right to be pretty proud of this. It’s going to be interesting to see what the fans think of it.
1. Maybe Next Time
2. Four Years
3. Miles Away
4. Can’t Let it Go
6. Couldn’t Give 34 Fucks
8. The Descent
9. Forget What You Know
10. Finders Keepers
11. Last Words