You know those memes that have been going around the past coupe of years where it’s a chaotic picture where the objects in it have been blurred or distorted so that your brain thinks it should recognize them but still can’t and you end up squinting at it for far too long? Vectralux is, in concept, a much more pleasant version of those diabolical pictures. With a name that, by their own admission, is “a made-up word that sounds strangely familiar” and title for their debut album that will have writers and linguists snarling into their unsatisfied Broca’s areas, it would seem that’s just what Vectralux want.
Conjuring nostalgic feelings via a boppy, synth-infused electro-rock sound, Vectralux’s debut Each Morning and the Morning Thereafter has the same effect musically as their name and album title have linguistically. With frontman Hannibal Heredia’s vocals that sound like a cross between Elvis Costello and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum leading the somehow both retro-and-new-style charge, there are lashings of everything from Duran Duran to Vampire Weekend in this album.
As is their mantra, apparently, all the songs on Each Morning…have a hint of something recognizable paired with something all the band’s own. All designed to be lyrical “parables that explore the question: how does one stay whole and smiling when leaving one life for another…” Heredia’s lyrics were inspired by his own personal journey but, in true Vectralux style, their content is familiar to anyone who’s been a human for a while: relatable and familiar but also personal.
The album opens with “Hey!” a sort of battle call to the strange wild of Vectralux and their indie pop tales whose sounds once again conjures Costello-and-the-Attractions vibes along with, perhaps, Ben Folds Five. Sort of a continuation of the title, “Hey” launches into the music stories and with music that’s both haunting and fun. The same unsettled-yet-can’t-help-but-be-happy vibes permeate through the new wave-inspired (are we getting Duran Duran and The Who mashup vibes here?) “Hidden Days” and “Almost Whatever Now” which somehow melds early The Rentals with Dinosaur Jr and OG pop punk. Things only get weirder with “To Be Untitled,” which opens with a guitar riff just slightly off from “Kiss Me” by Six Pence None the Richer but whose vocals are more The Polyphonic Spree. If your head’s not spinning by now, just listen to the rest.
We could go on naming all the bands each song sounds like, but that’s not the point. So many musical artists borrow and re-work music and claim it as original, but Vectralux not only own but it but proclaim there’s something new to be made and that the nostalgic-but-not-quite and one-key-short-of-recognizable feelings are valid as forms of expression. Do we not all, after all, tend to go with sounds and feeling we already love and recognize?
Vectralux is simply taking that to its logical conclusion and, really, to its most noble format. It can be unsettling, like “Vectralux” feeling real because it’s a combination or two words or Each Morning and the Morning Thereafter feeling like a familiar turn of phrase even though when you frown at it long enough, it’s basic nonsense. The English language owes Shakespeare a debt of gratitude for all the strange words and sayings he came up with, so why can’t acts like Vectralux do the same with music? Clever to devious proportions, any sort of music fan will find something they like on this album because, well, you sort of have to.
Each Morning and the Morning Thereafter is out now in digital and CD formats and can be streamed on Spotify or purchased on Bandcamp. The band will be releasing a vinyl version of the album in early 2022.