After initially releasing their debut album at the end of last year, Virginia Wing have put out a deluxe edition. On top of the original twelve tracks, two songs from their Extended Play EP have found their way onto the album, adding onto the album for this special re-release. The question is, how do the additional songs affect the album as a whole?
Measures of Joy is an odd little album. Mostly drawing on elements of psychedelic and shoegaze music, mixed with some pop style to finish it off. Songs often feature droning sounds and distant vocals that go between singing and talking often. World Contact acts as the best example, taking a pounding drum beat and surrounding it with droning sound effects and the occasional cymbal as Alice’s vocals echo about the song, bordering on unintelligible in the context of the music before going into a dreamy chorus. While this is the most generally pop moment on the album, it utilises most of the important elements of their music well.
Marnie takes a similar route, with a similar style drum beat surrounded by droning keyboards and a bass guitar filling in the background of the song. Read The Rules takes the pop level even lower than the last two songs, focusing more on the psychedelic and shoegaze elements than pop, which ultimately works in its favour. The similarities in these three songs detract from their appeal as a whole, but they’re still pleasant.
Unfortunately the similar sound problem is common with the rest of the album, and it’s outside of these three songs that its grating nature starts showing. Songs run into each other and use similar sounds and structures, with the monotonous and unintelligible vocals pushing you even further out of the zone while listening to the album. The constant droning, additional effects and occasionally chopped vocals that appear throughout the remainder of the album do nothing to stand out, which makes keeping track of it hard. It’s at its worst on moments like The Arabesque, largely instrumental songs that take the sounds to the extreme and make it even harder to bear.
And while Rit Rit Rit of the two bonus tracks does nothing to alleviate this issue, Donna’s Gift does a good job of taking it in a better direction before the album ends. It brings the pop back and feels almost minimal compared to the rest of the songs for a good portion of its run time. While it still feels similar to the other more pop oriented songs on the album, which further lessens the positive effect these stand-outs have on the album, its addition does add another positive track to the album, rather than bogging it down with more bad ones.
But in the end, it means only a third of the album is really listenable. Measures of Joy has a clear concept sound-wise, but the execution lacks, meaning the concept has nothing to carry it through the album. It’s a hard listen, and one that will only appeal to hardcore fans of psychedelic or shoegaze music.