Review Summary: Vanna's fourth album can be summed up in one word: Forgettable.
It is hard to consider Vanna the same band they were a mere 5 years ago. Although bands more often than not go through at least one member change during their tenure, Vanna is a band that has served as a near revolving door of musicians, as in the past five years they have seen their lead vocalist, lead guitarist and drummer depart. The only remaining original members are rhythm guitarist Nick Lambert and bassist Shawn Marquis, hardly the backbone of any musical venture. Regardless of the misfortune that has befallen this post-hardcore band out of Boston, Vanna has persevered throughout their entire 9 year career, steadily releasing album after album. Sadly though, The Few And Far Between is without a doubt a blemish upon an already spotty career.
The Few and the Far Between is a rather short listen; the first two tracks are less than two minutes in length and not a single track is longer than three and half. Vanna, in an apparent attempt to emulate bands such as Norma Jean or Botch, attempt to create ‘chaotic’ music, an attempt that falls flat on its face. Despite their short length, songs are repetitive and bland, often repeating a riff multiple times. “The Lost Art of Staying Alive” is a testament to this; the riff is subtly introduced in “The Few and the Far Between” before continuing into the intro of The Lost Art Of Staying Alive, well overstaying its welcome.
The first two tracks serve to be a rather reliable litmus test; if one can stomach the vocals of Davey Muise in the first two tracks, then this album will more than likely be an enjoyable listen, as they are, for better or for worse, the focal point of this record. Immediately following the two ‘intro’ tracks is lead single “Year of the Rat”. Year of the Rat offers the first glimpse of clean vocals, along with a glimpse into the lyrical content of The Few and the Far Between. The painfully uninspired line “You have to breathe to be alive” is repeated before an ill-advised breakdown introduced with a grunt. Thankfully breakdowns are not implemented as often as one would assume, but when they are we see Vanna at their worst. The breakdowns that are present are often preceded by ‘tough-guy’ lyrics or an indecipherable guttural sound while consisting of mindless chugging.
The album progresses in much the same way, with songs often times struggling to find the perfect balance between chaos and melody, a target often missed. Vanna is at their best when they slow down, most evident in the chorus of “I Said I’m Fine” and the entire premise of the closing track “His Heels”. Sadly, Vanna opt to, instead of fleshing out their slower aspects, focus primarily on chaos. The instrumentation is identical to other bands within the scene and does nothing to stand out. Guitars play simplistic leads or breakdowns, the bass is nearly always inaudible and the drums seem to merely embellish the guitar parts.
In no way distinctive from the myriad of mundane releases in its genre, The Few and the Far Between is an album that will inevitably be forgotten soon after first listen. Nearly every track seems similar in some way to its predecessor, seamlessly blending eleven tracks into one. While it is no way a terrible release, Vanna have created an album we have all heard before. Highlights are sprinkled in periodically throughout, be it the soothing female vocals found on “Please Stay” or the rare instance when Vanna decides to ‘slow it down’, but the good far outweighs the bad, clichés far outnumber original thought, leading to an ultimately dull and tepid release.