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Total Depravity *


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Finn Andrews (vocals, guitar); Dan Raishbrook (guitar); Eric Gorfain (violin); Ryan Parrish (saxophone); Drake Peterson (trumpet); Antonio Rinaldi (trombone); Uberto Rapisardi (piano, organ); Henning Dietz (drums).
  • Recording information: Casa Lynch, Los Angeles; Konk Studios, London.
  • Photographer: Jessica Maccormick.
  • Brimming over with wee-hours-of-the-morning cold sweats, the aptly named Total Depravity finds the Veils sifting through the wreckage of heartache, regret, and Lovecraftian terror via an icy slow drip of Bad Seeds-kissed electro-funk and bluesy, minor-key wailing that suggest a dark night of the soul worthy of Sisyphus. The London-via-New Zealand-bred unit's fifth studio long-player was co-produced by Run the Jewels' co-conspirator El-P, alongside frontman Finn Andrews and Nick Cave architect Atom Greenspan, and it introduces a textural change -- a whole lot of loops and gear-driven bells and whistles -- that effectively doubles down on the group's predilection toward alternately soulful and dystopian sonic miasma. Total Depravity is largely narrative based, with Andrews taking on a host of colorful characters, including a sociopathic long haul trucker ("King of Chrome") and a neotenic Mexican salamander ("Axolotl") -- it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that he was tapped by director and longtime Veils fan David Lynch for an appearance on the newly rebooted Twin Peaks. His penchant for playing the hellfire and brimstone preacher owes more than a cursory nod to Tom Waits and the aforementioned Cave, both of whom he cites as inspirations, but his take on the dark underbelly of American culture feels as rooted in sensuality as it does in sin and salvation. There is a soulful and undeniably sultry swagger to sad-sack room clearers like "Swimming with Crocodiles," "Iodine and Iron," and the tension-filled title cut, which echoes Jeff Buckley, and while Andrews may lack the late singer/songwriter's angelic pipes, he shares his knack for making the darkness in all of us feel both hopeless and sexy. ~ James Christopher Monger
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