VANIISH - Memory Work (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Memory Work (2014)


San Francisco—based singer/guitarist Kevin Tecon's played in a host of post—punk and shoegaze bands, but the one with the most obvious correlation to his current project was Veil Veil Vanish. The outfit released one incredibly promising and just about fully realized album of shadowy, electronic—tinged new wave, then became very quiet over the next few years. Somewhere during all of this, Tecon left any band he was associated with in early 2013 when his mother passed away while he was on tour in Europe. He returned home and started the more concisely named VANIISH, and as any astute interpreter could guess, it's a rather logical extension from VVV, but with noticeable diversions and assuring improvements.

While the aesthetic rebranding looks less Metropolis—tic (honestly, no pun intended as far as the band's remaining affiliated label goes) and the darker tone seems to reflect the somewhat recent tragedy in Tecon's life, VANIISH is still pulling from synth—heavy, early '80s post—punk, namely New Order/Joy Division and the Cure. It's not entirely unlike what Scottish outfit the Twilight Sad explored on their No One Can Ever Know full—length (check "Succession"), with heavy darkwave overtones, splashy processed drums, and curtly sung, agitated lines repeated to melodic effect.

Tecon still has a knack for turning simple but strangely vague phrases on paper into memorable, weighty refrains on record, from the yawning chorus of Memory Work's title track ("Nothing to remember / Nothing to regret / Lights becoming faces / Waiting to forget") to the staccato shouts during the anxious thrust of "Search and Replace" ("Sirens / Scattered chants"). Sure, there's largely verse—chorus structure here, with little deviation from it from track to track ("In Images", a mood—setting instrumental intro, and the shoegazey, French—sung outro "La foi au fil de l'eau" make exception), but it's worked to VANIISH's advantage: the most memorable moments always seeming to involve harsh heartbreak or wrought relationship strain ("Merge," dynamic latecomer "Cold Fascination"), however gnarled and lowly they may come off as, and there's always a synthetic, gray, chilly atmosphere to hover over it all.

Tecon has seemingly had his musical hand in many projects, but Memory Work has to be among his best: It's delightfully downtrodden and, like VVV's Change in the Neon Light, wields anthemic edges stretching it somewhat beyond mere genre practice. At worst, it's a major standout of its kind.