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Album review

Viv Albertine 

The Vermillion Border

added: 9 Dec 2012 // release date: 5 Nov 2012 // label: Cadiz Music
reviewer: Paul Chapinal

Viv Albertine - The Vermillion Border - Printable version
Probably not the most professional thing to do but lack of time meant I listened to The Vermillion Border while writing another review. That should have resulted in a half-baked write-up and a distracted under appreciation of this album. Others can decide on the other review, the effect of this album was immediate attention.

This is Viv Albertine’s first solo album and first recording - apart from the Felsh EP - in 25 years. As a member of The Slits she was on forerunner of the overinflated riot grrrl movement but probably more importantly her guitar playing has been cited as an influence by the likes of The Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth amongst others.

What we have with Vermillion Border is a heavily bass orientated album - Ms Albertine uses a different bassist for each track – though not to the point that they overwhelm the song. Take the spiralling, metronomic Confessions of a MILF’s background guitar lines, or the almost folky/lullaby When it Was Nice. Then there’s InVitro with Jack Bruce whose playing is an almost the perfect foil for the guitar.

The subject matter ranges from domestic life, drugs, prostitution to a commentary on England, some funny, others not so. Viv Albetine’s vocals are for the most part semi-spoken though on sparse The False Heart she does actually sing a bit. It’s a very effective tool and gives the album an all round aura of semi disorientation.

As we head towards the end, the album does lose a bit of momentum, though picking up with the pastoral The Madness of Clouds and closing with Still England; a catalogue/diatribe of the country’s good, bad and ugly, recounted to a percussive march.

As mentioned earlier The Vermillion Border was an instant ‘hit’. That’s not to say its shallow, far from it, repeated listens mean greater appreciation of the lyrics, and the more complex arrangements that underlie many of the songs. Give it a listen.


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4 stars

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