Review Summary: Quite a valiant effort from a duo that is searching their place in the crowded space of melodic rock.
These days, it takes quite a bit of effort and knowledge to enter the field of a popular field that is labeled as melodic rock, populated by the likes of Radiohead, U2, Pink Floyd (if they are still around)… no need to name further big acts. Usually, the acts trying that lack the melodic knack, or try to cover their shortcomings with a batch of synthesizers and electronic effects, as well as many sidemen they can get their hands on, particularly in the studio.
The French duo Venice May, comprised of the partnership (musical and otherwise) of Ukrainian born Natalia Samofalova and Vincent Bedfert, try to do the almost impossible with their debut album Illusion is Inevitable. Not sure what the illusion of the title might refer to, but it might have something to do with the fact that to record the album they didn’t use any synths, trying to mainly rely on Vincent’s guitar and its effects and Natalia’s strong vocals.
Such an approach is, even more, a double-edged sword, but to be frank, Venice May do a valiant effort and the result is more than just the average treading of water and attempts to emulate any particular sound. Although the duo try not to cite any influences, listening to the album brings to mind a mixture of quite a few names - from the melodic shifts and turns of Radiohead (“In The Presence Of A Ghost”) , the dream pop of The Cocteau Twins (“XYZ”) or Dead Can Dance (“Devil’s Lap”) and the guitar crunch of U2 (“The Nerve”).
Vincent’s guitar shifts anywhere between the clear sound of Cocteau’s Robin Guthrie and effects of My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, while Natalia’s clear and at moments operatic vocals shift between those of Lisa Gerrard and the cool of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. The tracks that work the best are those where the duo limit the music to as little as is necessary and picking up the pace for a more daring effect like on “One Way Out”.
The duo gives it all out on this very promising debut, that could have been a track or two shorter, but is certainly something that is worth more than one listen.