Right now, I feel like saying this line to Veda, only replacing girl with band.
Kansas City was immediately sold on the band's early sound -- a soaring, loose, emo-operatic, naked-soul-baring tidal wave fit for washing over today's tragic versions of when Andrew McCarthy met Molly Ringwald. Most endearing of all was Kristen May's trained voice, applied with tearful precision to the drifting, echo-addicted verses and pummeling choruses. At its best on record and whenever it played live, Veda could come off as staggering and majestic, foretelling of a sweet, dark apocalypse of the heart.
At its worst, however, Veda was melodramatic and self-obsessed, a band of able but uninspired players surrounding a talented but inexperienced girl belting out banal lyrics from her diary. To borrow a lyric from "The Falling Kind," its first unofficial hit: Innocence is seen as weakness for this band.
But it's only pretend innocence, because on The Weight of an Empty Room, the band's first full-length, Veda shows more depth and experience than is typical for a band so young. The first two songs develop more of the same baleful weight, albeit amped up with a strangely danceable catchiness. Then, after an obligatory reiteration of "The Falling Kind," comes "Lover's Lie," so fresh and effortless and relaxed that you damn near stand up and cheer.
Other tracks deliver further evidence of Veda's blossoming, bolstered by the band's willingness to get a little playful, as on the coy "It's All Happening on Broadway." But like nearly all the tracks, "Broadway" is weighed down by May's seeming obsession with bad love, which, thus far, she has treated with no cleverness or eloquence.
Oddly, though, in a recent interview, May talked about how frequently her lyrics are misunderstood as being about "boy-girl love" when they're about all kinds of things.
"Life, love, family relationships, all the shit that goes along with that, friends, the state of our nation, God and not-God, whatever," she told me.
It was a true writer's response, and I nearly pulled a Dick Diver.