Bullshit reigns. And Tom Vek knows it.
His antidote is sharp, sometimes sweet, always heavy. Thick, drenched crotchets chase quavers, propelling through the sullen depths of life – a comment and a cure.
There is a lot about life that’s plodding, boring, hard. Vek’s music has never shied away from that reality and he continues to use it to reflect back. But now it moves further, thinking and sketching around the edges of just how it is we live and love. At lightning speeds, faces illuminated with blue-white screen lights and ears stuffed with pre-recorded sound – everything pointing inwards. Is it eating us or freeing us? It is fun or foul? Or is it just as it ever was but somehow slightly different?
Tom Wolfe wrote the work that inspires Luck’s first single “Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)” when Vek was just six – people were making a fast buck in the city, as they are now and sometimes life seemed hollow, as it does now. How everything has changed and stayed the same requires some thought, some time, some space. And in this musical fray you can find it.
Newspapers ask if we are crippled with an anxiety epidemic, and while post-modernists write tomes and novelists write stories about futures that might never happen but sometimes do, Tom Vek writes a soundtrack. Gone is the dust in his sound from his parents’ garage and here is some small moment in time that, via Leisure Seizure, became a thumping, adept animal all its own.
There are moments of familiarity in Luck, as “Pushing Your Luck” pops and pops over the lament that melts through: “You’re skating on thin ice, with a heavy heart”. “A Mistake” has a touch of the past too, as it gyrates, blending the rough and the smooth of Vek’s voice with a backdrop that never relents.
But there are quieter moments and those that push Vek’s sound further still. “The Girl You Wouldn’t Leave For Any Other Girl” could’ve been a love song written a thousand times before, but as the single line loops and loops and loops it transforms from uncertain towards lost and finally to anger – the intensity of the journey like a memory once suppressed and now haunting. “Trying To Do Better”, staccato and playful, has a chorus that sways like an anthem to pair with warm beer on hot days, when you made mixtapes instead of doing homework.
Once again this clutch of sound, coming in at under an hour, is the vehicle for one of the most unusual and malleable voices in Britain today. “You’ll Stay” builds everything around the voice while “The Tongue Avoids the Teeth” weaves it through its entire sound, from backdrop up in simple, perfect layers.
There’s no doubt “Sherman…” will stick initially, but this, as ever, is an album you sit with and sits with you. It grows to fit around you until perfect. And on each visit you expose more.
Luck is not a solution to all it indentifies and emotes – there are no answers, only more sounds.