Describing themselves as having “sprinklings of dark Americana with 70s fuzz-rock”, Villanelle & The Northern Wonder bring together Joy Division, Alex Turner and Nick Cave in one heady package. Originally formed in 2019 as a solo project by singer-songwriter Kieran Greville, VATNW took Manchester by storm with a flurry of gigs at notable venues such as Gulliver’s. Approximately one year later in 2020, the project saw an evolution in sound with the addition of singer-songwriter Dan Shaw. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt on gigs but it didn’t put a halt to their creativity. The latest addition to their discography is the debut EP Dark Days at the Grand.
Working with producers Dave and Oscar of Sunglasses for Jaws, Dark Days at the Grand is a kaleidoscopic four-track EP. Combining pounding drums with soaring guitars, the single has an infectious rock-inspired vibe; however, each track shows a different side to their personality. Ranging from the glam-rock ‘Oh God’ to the Americana-inspired ‘Clever Girl’, the duo showcase their versatility and innovativeness.
Filled with infectious riffs, captivating choruses and a general appeal for sing-along singles, Dark Days at the Grand is utterly enchanting. Yes, the vocals have a strong similarity to Nick Cave, but this chilling hauntingness adds an ethereal quality to intimate tracks. Gruff, harsh and heavy, VATNW adopts a seductive swagger throughout the EP. Yet, it is not the disarming melodies that have a spine-chilling effect, it is the profound lyricism. Touching on topics of guilt, yearning, angst, isolation and inner turmoil, Dark Days at the Grand is a dissection of human fragility in its rawest form.
Easily placed as a soundtrack to Bates Motel or American Horror Story, Dark Days at the Grand has a quiet intensity gripping your heart and leaving you breathless. It’s a little creepy, but I truly adore the EP and can’t wait for more!