The Runaway Found is the debut LP from The Veils, a four-piece, London-based band who are fairly new on the scene and still relatively unhyped. They’ve toured the UK with the likes of The Cooper Temple Clause, The Raveonettes and The Jeevas, and their profile seems to be picking up steam, starting with their admirable recent single The Wild Son.
The band are fronted by singer / songwriter / rhythm guitarist Finn Andrews, a man with extraordinary style. Although UK-born, Andrews was raised in New Zealand, and boasts perhaps the most startlingly emotive delivery of recent years. In many songs (such as the excellent Lavinia) he soars to breaking point, layering raw, gravelly and heartfelt vocals over a backing of acoustic guitar and sweeping string arrangements. Somewhere between Richard Ashcroft and Strokes-man Julian Casablancas, there is no doubt that Andrews is a prodigious talent, especially when you consider his tender age of just 20.
Album opener The Wild Son, like the rest of the album, is tenderly laced with introspective lyrics, often obscure and dark, but never anything less than engaging. It is quickly followed by Guiding Light, and it’s no wonder this was a single with its catchy hook and simple but stirring vocals.
As early as track three you should be left with no doubt that The Veils are threatening to be something very special indeed, and Lavinia will gradually eat its way into your conscience, with its haunting piano riff, beautiful orchestration and Andrews’ trademark strained melancholia.
The Runaway Found is no one trick horse, however, and goes on to reflect profound insights on a variety of stages, including heavy rock (More Heat Than Light), endearing folk-pop (The Tide That Left And Never Came Back) and epic, slow-burning ballads (The Valleys Of New Orleans). Slow-burning would, in fact, be the keyword for The Runaway Found. It won’t hit you like The Strokes’ Is This It but neither will it submit to quick-fix gratification like so many bands recently. It will instead be, in the words of Garth Elgar, “constricting at first”, but will “gradually become a part of you.”
With Bernard Butler manning the production desk and The Veils appearing to take only the very best modern bands as their influences, The Runaway Found is one of the first must-buy albums of 2004. Chances are you will succumb to the astonishing poignant voice of Finn Andrews sooner or later, so you might as well do yourself a favour and pick up this album as soon as you can. You won’t regret it.