Violens

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Photograph: Tim Soter

Music Hall of Williamsburg; May 8, 2008
Union Pool; May 9, 2008

Most bands will never write a song so flawless as Violens’ “Violent Sensation Descends.” An array of merciless synths crash down, attacking the air before peeling off to make room for Jorge Elbrecht’s extraordinary vocals, high and earnest with a hint of something like dispassion. The whole piece unfurls with refined drama; synths, harmonies and tailored guitar figures sweep and mesh in measured but fiery melody. Your ears are broken if you don’t play it several times over before you can do anything else; besides, it might not be till the third or fourth listen that you pick up on Elbrecht’s lyrics: “A sudden violent sensation descends / It may be aimed at you / ’Cause baby, I’ve learned that I could never do.” It’s all over in two minutes and change, leaving you bruised and reaching for the rewind.

Of course, there’s an obvious problem with writing one perfect song. Nevertheless, these pop aesthetes—Elbrecht and a couple of his bandmates were behind the music of art collective Lansing-Dreiden—are quickly building a full set of high-quality stuff; for now, a three-song EP is all that’s available (though more can be heard at the band’s MySpace page). Violens clearly draws from the mid-’80s U.K. indie scene (Aztec Camera, the Pale Fountains, Prefab Sprout) but doesn’t sound derivative of anyone; the group’s evocation of that era’s internationalist style and wit comes wrapped in a cool emotionalism that also characterizes Violens’ onstage vibe. The only issue with their shows is that we can’t get them to play a song more than once.

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