While a buzzed-about band’s second album is often hotly anticipated — fans hold their breath, critics sharpen their knives — in the case of Veronica Falls’ forthcoming sophomore effort, expectation wasn’t entirely welcome. “If you do what people expect, it’s really impossible to be creative,” Roxanne Clifford, the London-based band’s front woman, says. “When we started, we didn’t set many goals, but when people know the identity of a band and they like you for certain reasons, it can be difficult.”
Luckily what ended up making the band happy this time around should please fans as well. Waiting For Something To Happen is a heartfelt, whip-smart and maudlin set of 13 songs that offers more of what fans loved from the group’s 2011 self-titled debut (witty lyrics, harmony and heartbreak, a Morrissean take on life and love) but with a distinctly more lived-in feel.
“We actually did it in a less polished way than we did with the first album,” Clifford says of making the record. “We all recorded it live, because the songs are quite simple and it’s more about us coming together. We try to get a primal energy across.” Part of that energy came from the songs on the second album being written more quickly than those on the first, some of which had been released as early singles and all of which had been polished over months of gigs. “This was more of a studio album because we hadn’t had the luxury of playing new songs over and over live for months until we recorded them,” Clifford says. “Some of it came together in the studio and there’s more light and dark on the record.”
Another change for Veronica Falls — who bristled at the C86 comparisons its early work received, Clifford says — is in how the group writes songs. “We never really jam, we’re not that sort of band,” Clifford says. “But the first song on the record, ‘Tell Me,’ is a kraut-rocky one that did come out of a jam in the studio. There was a riff that we just played over and over and so we recorded it and then put the lyrics on later. It came out quite nicely.”
Not everything about the group has changed on it second album, however. “It’s really important to me that the band has an aesthetic,” Clifford says of the visual through lines that run through their releases. The group’s self-titled effort used a spooky found photo of a house for cover art, and this album relies on a snapshot Clifford took at supernatural Santa Cruz, Calif. tourist favorite The Mystery Spot. “You know how it’s nice to look and just know that something is a Smiths record,” she asks. “Evoking a certain feeling is really important to us.”
That’s something it’s easy to comprehend from the album art, but also the songs. Veronica Falls’ new approach to making music clearly works for the group. Standouts like “Teenage” and “Buried Alive” showcase the wistful, jangly sounds that earned the band buzz in the first place; what makes a Veronica Falls track resonate is still there, it’s just been polished. “On the first record, when we first started writing songs, they were really playful and we needed a bit more drama,” Clifford says. “But these came about in a less theatrical way. We weren’t trying to convey any sort of image, so it’s a more honest record.”
Veronica Falls’s album Waiting For Something To Happen is out today, February 12 via Slumberland. Stream it at Pitchfork.