The Verlaines – Way Out Where

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 5)

The Verlaines took a long break after this, and possibly lost U.S. distribution. They certainly fell off my radar and I was surprised to learn that there are four more albums that post-date this one, through 2012. I suppose it’s time to hit up Spotify (and maybe Discogs).

What I Think of This Album

I could say something like “The Professor finally discovers rock” but that would be obnoxious. Though this is the most muscular album of the Verlaines’ output (at least as far as I know), it’s not like academic Graeme Downes hadn’t relied on rock instrumentation before. But this time the band has added a second guitarist and toned down the orchestral elements. That frankly makes the album considerably less interesting than Bird Dog or Ready to Fly (the two you should definitely own), but it is by no means bad.

The songs are pretty strong and Downes’s voice still conveys buckets of emotion. It’s just that the tunes lose something by relying solely on traditional instrumentation, even as Downes still explores the usual different styles.

For example, on an earlier release, “This Valentine” would have incorporated strings and brass, and the choice to instead feature a distorted guitar seems like the wrong one; “Cathedrals Under the Sea” would absolutely have been wrapped in dramatic and empathic orchestration. I can almost hear the alternate arrangements in my head when I listen to these songs.

Even “Blanket Over the Sky” and the title track, both of which actually benefit from the sturm-und-drang of the guitars, still probably would have sounded even better with more intricate arrangements. A oboe and then an organ are heard on “Lucky In My Dreams,” and it is like a gift from above.

To be clear, there are string and woodwind credits, as well as keyboard credits, but it appears that they are limited to closing song “Dirge.” And there is additional variety found in the pastoral “Black Wings,” with some nice percussion.

Just so there is no confusion, this is another Flying Nun release.

The Best Thing About This Album

“Lucky In my Dreams” for its more expansive sound, but “Stay Gone” is an outstanding song.

Release Date

1993

The Cover Art

I’m pretty sure they borrowed this font from the Cramps? Or maybe the Misfits? Whatever its origin, it does not work here at all. And the Courier-like font for the title is also bad. The vulture is pretty ugly, too, actually, but I’m also not sure there is such a thing as a not-ugly vulture.

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