“Airborne” – The Van Doos
Long-time readers may be familiar with my affection for new rock’n’roll that tips its hat to the old while still standing with its feet planted in the here and now. This is my sweet spot, unabashedly so. The Van Doos pretty much knock the ball out of the park in this regard, combining melodies that gaze back towards the ’50s with the structural intricacies of 21st-century indie rock and the crowd-pleasing sing-along-iness of timeless pop. Instrumentation is rooted in classic rock, but listen closely and enjoy the disciplined crunch of the guitars, the delightfully elastic bass line, and the strategic use of castanets, among other things. I do love the strategic use of castanets.
(Now then, some might claim that any band using merely traditional rock’n’roll instruments, as opposed to laptops and digital manipulations and such, is by definition not standing with its feet planted in the here and now. I scoff at such short-sightedness and ask time to referee this battle. Come back in 30 years and we’ll see how things stand.)
Another wonderful aspect of “Airborne” is how much of a journey the song takes us on, in under four minutes, while still feeling easy to absorb rather than obtuse. The band employs an array of subtle flourishes to add depth while remaining approachable, from the sparse arrangement of the opening verse to the unexpected, simultaneous rhythm and key change at 1:00 to the offbeat structure of a song that seems not to have a chorus but a really enticing secondary verse, heard once (beginning at 1:05), immediately repeated, and then abandoned for the accumulating momentum of the rest of the song. Cool stuff, truly.
The Van Doos are a relatively new quartet from North Yorkshire, in the U.K. “Airborne” is a song from their forthcoming debut album, perspicaciously entitled Fingertips.