Velocity Girl – ¡Simpatico!

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

This band should call up memories of my high school friend Meetul and my college friend Ben. Instead, it evokes thoughts of a woman I was very into, who once texted me that she had heard Velocity Girl recently and it reminded her of me. I was on a high for the rest of the day . . . because I have no self-esteem and rely on other people to make me feel good. As it turned out, she much later progressed to saying other, more significant things, in person and at moments of great vulnerability and intimacy, that made me feel even better, before revealing just how little I meant to her with the text message equivalent of a form letter, which itself contained additional untruths. To make matters worse, this is not the only music that I associate with her. FML.

What I Think of This Album

Velocity Girl released three albums. No one knows or cares about the third one and everyone loves the first. This is the second, and as far as I am concerned, the best one. Copacetic was ill-served by an emphasis on noise over songwriting, and frankly, Sarah Shannon’s voice sounded thin and weak. The band tightens things up considerably on ¡Simpatico!, at the expense of some of the shoegaze sonics of the first album. Shannon sounds stronger and confident, there are more and better melodies, and guitarist Archie Moore (Black Tambourine) contributes vocals, adding some variety and color to the songs. I suppose some credit has to go to producer John Porter (the Alarm, Billy Bragg, the Smiths).

There is a pleasant fuzziness to “Sorry Again,” which benefits from Moore’s backing vocals. And “There’s Only One Thing Left to Do” boasts a melody the band would’ve buried in pointless noise on the debut, much like the very fine “Drug Girls.” The duet on “I Can’t Stop Smiling” approaches twee pop, with engaging and enjoyable results, including its herky-jerky chorus. Shannon has probably never sung better than she does on the muscular “The All-Consumer” (though honestly, Moore does not do a great job on this one). The band explores a darker sound on the verses of “Rubble,” which it intriguingly and effectively contrasts with brighter sections, before moving to a churning conclusion. The album loses steam a little past the halfway mark – (“Hey You, Get Off My Moon” asks too much of Shannon) – but Velocity Girl reasserts itself with the tough (relatively speaking), Moore-helmed “What You Left Behind” and brief but atmospheric instrumental “Wake Up, I’m Leaving.”

They thank Black Tamourine’s Pam Berry, Belly, Sloan, Small Factory, Stereolab, Superchunk, Mike Schulman (also a Black Tambourine alum and head of Slumberland), Tiger Trap, Velvet Crush, and Bob Weston. This is one of the few Sub Pop releases I own.

Band trivia:  the original vocalist was Bridget Cross, who went on to join Unrest. Drummer Jim Spellman became a correspondent for CNN. The band, which came out of College Park, Maryland in 1989, was named after the classic Primal Scream song (written back when Jim Beattie (Adventures In Stereo) was in the band). Guitarist Brian Nelson was also in Black Tambourine.

The Best Thing About This Album

While a drummer who becomes an international television journalist is difficult to ignore, I think “Drug Girls” deserves more attention.

Release Date

June, 1994

The Cover Art

Terrible. The title font looks awful, the shapes are vaguely disturbing, and the colors are unappealing. Amateurish all around.

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