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22 February 2017

Album Review: Venn | Venn EP.

VENN is the Washington, D.C. based four piece of Jon Fetahaj, Gabe Earle, Julian Earle and Holden Cihelka. A few weeks ago we featured the band’s catchy first single, “Surreal” in anticipation of their self-titled debut EP, which is officially released today via Bandcamp. Based on the strength of the single, our expectations were exceptionally high. This 4-song EP does not disappoint.

The EP kicks off with the aforementioned “Surreal”, a jangly shoegaze number that grabs you by the collar and demands your attention. After weeks of repeated play, the tune has lost none of its luster for me. Descriptors like effervescent, energetic and exhilarating all come to mind, but at the end of the day; “Surreal” is a perfect noise-pop gem. Its fevered pitch sets the pace for what’s to come.

“Weekday” follows it up and packs a similar nostalgic punch. In fact, one of the most remarkable things about these young gazers, aside from sheer talent, is their innate grasp on nostalgic melody. Properly crafted nostalgic noise pop is not easy to make, but it should sound effortless, and Venn excels at this. “Weekday” features the same frenzied guitar work and noisy, cymbal-clanging brilliance captured in “Surreal”, but the sparkling vocal melody that comes in at 0:37 feels particularly special to me. This EP is loaded with cleverness, but this track may be the most sonically sophisticated of them all.

Next comes “Maybe I’m a Liar” – for all intents and purposes, Venn’s origin song, as it was the first one they wrote together. Compared to the two tracks that come before it, “Maybe I’m a Liar” is less raucous and more on the soothing side of things. While slightly less dynamic than its predecessors, Venn’s signature catchiness remains. The song also boasts a killer guitar groove that you’d have to be dead inside not to love.

The EP closes with “Someone Else”, by far their longest track (clocking in at just over 6 minutes). The song’s intense intro sets you up for a rowdy jangle jam, and it is that, but it’s also something of a slow-burner. The tempo downshifts for the first verse, then ramps up again at the chorus. “Someone Else” is a rollercoaster ride, running you through a gamut of emotions that perfectly encapsulates the tumultuousness of the subject matter. In certain places, the vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Kandefer of The Daysleepers that alone is a magical thing. But comparisons are boring, and Venn is much more than a sum of comparisons.

Venn’s EP would be impressive for a seasoned group of musicians with several releases already under their belts. As a debut offering from musicians so young, it’s absolutely incredible. Venn are as stunning as they are precocious, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.