Vega 4 | You and Others (Columbia)

cd_vega4Distorted vocals and guitar? Check. Repetitive bass notes? Check. Mood-moving lyrics? Check.






It used to be that band members knew they'd made it when they got a chance to play at CBGB's. Now? Any mid-tempo rock group isn't worth the distortion they put their vocals through unless they have a song on Grey's Anatomy. I should point out that Vega4's recent release You and Others was specifically sent to me to review, even though I have only reviewed one album for PLAYBACK:stl: Snow Patrol's Eyes Open, from which came the song "Chasing Cars," featured on Grey's Anatomy. So either they think I am Playback's resident Grey's Anatomy expert (guilty pleasure) or the resident mid-tempo Brit-rock expert (I'm sure I'm not).

The comparisons between Snow Patrol and Vega4 are numerous and, apparently, invited. Lead singer from across the pond? Check. Distorted vocals and guitar? Check. Repetitive bass notes? Check. Mood-moving lyrics? Check. Lead vocalist with mellow voice oozing emotion and gravitas? Check. Produced by Jacknife Lee? Check. Had a song on Grey's Anatomy? Check.

Look, if you like Snow Patrol and having feelings, you're probably going to like this album. This is music that your 16-year-old sister and 55-year-old mother can listen to and enjoy (or at least be able to listen to in the car without complaining about the "damn kids' music").

There isn't much on here that you haven't heard before: it sounds like a stripped-down Snow Patrol album. That's not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, some of the best songs are the ones where they strip away all the distortion and go with a much simpler sound. Every inch of sonic landscape does not need to be filled—sometimes silence can fill out a song better and more richly than layered guitars ever could, and "If This is It" proves that quite well.

However, when the guitars and distortion come back (and they do), you cannot help but make the Snow Patrol comparisons, and, quite frankly, Snow Patrol does it better. Lyrically, they're not even in the same league. Where Snow Patrol uses clever metaphor and innuendo to convey their meaning, Vega4 is content to tell you that "Life is beautiful, but it's complicated." Word. Incidentally, I must be Playback's resident Grey's Anatomy expert; after hearing "Life Is Beautiful" I noted, "could be on Grey's Anatomy." It was. B | Bradley Terebelo

RIYL: Snow Patrol, Coldplay

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