The Velvet Teen - Plus, Minus, Equals (Cover Artwork)

The Velvet Teen

Plus, Minus, Equals (2002)


You know when a song sounds like its speaking to you directly. Like it was written specifically for you. Well, nearly every song on Plus, Minus, Equals has been like that for me. I don't know if singer Judah Nagler has been stalking me and listening to me talk in my sleep at night, but he has an incredible ability to relate with the listener. Plus, Minus, Equals is a collection of The Velvet Teen's first two EPs, The Great Beast February (2001) and Comasynthesis (2000), resulting in a 9 song "EP". At least it's priced as an EP over at Slowdance's website, despite the fact that its 42 minutes long.

If you haven't heard The Velvet Teen before, the first thing you will notice are Judah's incredible vocals. He can hit these gorgeous, falsetto notes that just send a chill down your spine, especially at a live show. The vocals are then backed by the amazing Josh Staples' thumping bass and Logan Whitehurst's excellent drumming. Finally, it's all rounded off by Judah's own emotion-filled guitar and keyboard work.

Plus, Minus, Equals' variety really makes this collection work. The band's first full-length Out of the Fierce Parade (2002), as a concept album, focused on the complete album and it being cohesive, and as a result sounded kind of like one extremely long song. These songs are single entities that are actually a bit easier to listen to, being that they are separate and each one has its own personality. From the more upbeat songs like the incredibly fun and happy Counting Backwards and the sassy Never Happy to the beautiful ballad's such as Mother of Love and Penning the Penultimate. The other songs float somewhere between the two extremes.

Something does need to be said for Judah's incredible songwriting. He just has an ability to relate emotions and comment on the human condition in a way that is uplifting while not being too preachy. Don't get me wrong, there are some incredibly depressing lyrics in this CD, such as the gut-wrenching Super Me (if the end of the world/came crashing down on him/he'd welcome it with open arms/like an old friend), but things seem to work out in these songs. He lives a tinge of hope in there.

Overall this is an incredible collection of songs from the early days of VT's life. If you were turned off by the fairly thick Out of the Fierce Parade, but still liked the sound a bit, this is a must buy. It's lighter and a bit more easy to swallow. Some may be turned off by the initial Lite Rock sound of some of the songs. Also, the lyrics may not strike a chord with you as much as they did for me, but the vocals and lyrics are still excellent. Not to forget the beautiful instrumentation, especially when all the effects are stripped away. If you don't own either of the EP's that make up this collection, then this album is just an incredible bang for the buck and is highly recommended.

Naked Girl