Before writing this review I had never heard of Vanna. A quick Youtube search led me to something so terrible that I had to turn it off, and I was worried about what I had let myself in for. Another Youtube search led me to something that sounded completely different, but was also terrible in its own follow-the-trend way. A quick Wikipedia search to make sure that there weren’t two different bands called Vanna, and disappointingly I was informed that there aren’t. Wikipedia also informed me of the large amount of lineup changes the Boston boys have been through, which helped explain the frankly horrible yet unalike tracks I had just regretfully experienced. With this in mind, I approached ‘The Few And Far Between’ with my teeth firmly gritted together.
I was surprised, as Vanna seem to have matured somewhat and found a sound that has a lot more lasting credibility than their previous efforts. Although, there isn’t much here that hasn’t been done a million times before.
The opening track provides a nice introduction to the album, drawing you in with distant guitars and led by a vocal that would make this a great song to open a set with. Every Time I Die are the first band that this reminds me of, along with label-mates Norma Jean.
By track three, ‘Year Of The Rat’, we are introduced to the cleanly sung vocals. Vanna fall into the trap here of sounding a bit like Atreyu, Trivium or any other mid-2000s metalcore act that were a bit shit. What follows this is a much better speedy hardcore track, ‘I Said I’m Fine’, which features the lyrics “Black shoes, black shirt, black heart” – coming soon to a Facebook status near you! This one finishes with full-on circle pit fodder and vocals that sound a bit like Refused’s Dennis Lyxzén, which pleasantly reminded me that hardcore doesn’t always have to be as linear and restricted as what we have on this record. Thank you Refused, for the memory.
‘The Few And Far Between’ is by no means a bad record, and I’m sure there will be a lot of people raving about this release (if the Youtube comments I read are anything to go by). It just seems like the formula of chugging guitars and big beatdowns has been exhausted, and to put out a record that is going to be memorable outside of your own fan-base you need to bring something exciting to the table. Vanna aren’t doing anything that Stick To Your Guns, Norma Jean or The Chariot haven’t already done better, and I think real hardcore fans will be put off by the singing that tends to spoil some otherwise good hardcore tunes.
The highlights are definitely the introduction I mentioned earlier and ‘Please Stay’, which shows Vanna at their calmest and probably the only time they deserve the post-hardcore tag they are frequently labelled with. The female vocal is a nice touch, but the track doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the album. The fact that this one was my favourite probably says a lot more about me and my taste than it does about Vanna’s quality of songwriting. I’m not especially keen on tough guy mosh-pit hardcore as it is, so whilst this record didn’t do very much for me, I’m sure it’ll be exactly what some others are looking for.