Review Summary: Vanna's "growing up" album.
On their fourth full-length album, Boston-based Vanna have finally learned how to play to their strengths as a band by crafting an album with a true identity. It’s not that they switched up their formula, or changed drastically from the sound of their previous efforts; it’s that they molded a sound that began with A New Hope and was altered by And They Came Baring Bones into something that seems fully realized.
The Few and Far Between cements the growing up Vanna has done as a band. The 2013 effort truly portrays the feeling that every decision was made for a deliberate reason, and that’s what makes it feel much more mature than anything they’ve released to date. Take for example the carefully planned out order of the tracks. Instead of every song feeling like its place within the album is arbitrary and interchangeable, the full album, when listened to in order, flows perfectly. From the tracks all feeding into each other without any abrupt stops, to the variation preventing a prolonged block of one particular sound without anything to break up the monotony, The Few and Far Between feels both cohesive and refreshing. It starts off fast with two of the shortest and thrashiest tracks in their catalog, and ends with a couple of slow-burners amidst all the bangers in the middle. From front to back, Vanna has nailed the aspect of making The Few and Far Between feel like a complete album.
While the groundwork is laid perfectly, the careful attention to cohesion and song order wouldn’t matter in the slightest is the music was bad, right? From the first listen, it’s pretty clear that this is some of Vanna’s most inspired and most enjoyable music to date. And surprisingly enough, some of the best Vanna have to offer this time around manifests itself in the more atypical tracks like the super thrashy “Lost Art Of Staying Alive” and the almost schizophrenically-paced “I Said I’m Fine” with one of the most memorable lines on the album being the “Black shoes, black shirt, black heart” chant. “Year of the Rat” has the best breakdown on the record as well as the catchiest chorus; it is the track most representative of the whole album and as such is the prefect pick for the record’s lead single. However in less traditional fashion, the slower tracks in “Please Stay” and “The Dreamer/The Thief/The Relic” are also solid standouts.
It is blindingly obvious that Vanna have done a lot of growing up as a band on their newest record. The Few and Far Between is the tightest material Vanna have made as a band, and as such it showcases their true potential more so than any of their prior albums. From the careful attention to detail to the variation in sound and song structure to the overall quality of all the tracks, Vanna have proven themselves in every way what their previous efforts could not.