Vulture Party is a creative Scottish three-piece who, in their own words, make “disquieting Alt Pop for the socially conscious“. Based in Falkirk, a large town located roughly halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the band consists of Louise Ward on vocals and piano, David King on vocals, guitar and synths, and Dickson Telfer on bass and backing vocals. Their pleasing sound is delivered with an array of styles ranging from infectious, new-wave infused dance-pop to moody, introspective piano compositions, and featuring lovely piano keys, bewitching synths and sublime vocal harmonies. Having both male and female vocalists gives their music even greater richness and depth.
I first featured Vulture Party this past June when I reviewed their marvelous dance-pop single “Blood Wolf Moon”. Now they return with their second album Archipelago, released on October 14th via the Scottish not-for-profit independent record label Last Night From Glasgow. The album features nine tracks, including “Blood Wolf Moon” and their previously-released singles “Afterlife” and “Iso Disco”.
About the album, the band explains: “Archipelago is our second album as it was never intended. Back in 2020, we were ready to hit the studio to lay down a fully written, good-to-go second album, but . . . enter pandemic, and thus a re-think. What transpired was a change of direction and a new set of songs, written and put together from a distance. Each of us (David, Louise and Dickson) our own little island, we were forced – like many others – to collaborate in a new and government-rule-approved way. Sending files back and forth using a variety of pieces of kit, and software, we created Archipelago, an album about fear, isolation and hope. Using driving electronic beats, pulsing grooves and big hooks, the album reflects on love, family and friendship being all that counts when the rest of the world seems so bleak and far away.”
All nine tracks on Archipelago are solid, but I’ll touch on my favorites and those I feel are standouts. Opening track “Better Days Will Come” kind of sets the album’s overall theme of hope and resilience in these trying times – that no matter how bleak things may seem at the moment, we need to hold onto the things that matter most: “In the darkness, in the darkness, in the darkness we find our friend. In the sadness, in the sadness, in the sadness, we don’t pretend. Better days will come, better days will come, if you want them to.” The languid trip hop groove, delicate piano keys and fuzzy synths create a soothing backdrop for Louise and David’s comforting vocal harmonies, all of which wrap us in a warm blanket of sound.
My favorite song on the album is “Blood Wolf Moon“, a flawlessly-crafted and addictive dance-pop gem. Essentially a love song with simple lyrics like “Give me your love. It’s all I need“, Vulture Party decided to bring the song to life with a charming video, created under the direction of Neil McKenzie of Keep it Creative. It tells the story of a female werewolf, played by Louise, searching for human contact and finding love through music and dance.
Another favorite is “Ride That Feeling“, a beautiful song about freeing oneself of negative thoughts and obsessions, and instead allowing positive influences and experiences to flourish, in the hopes of living a better life: “You are free if you want to be. No more hiding in the dark. Let it all go. Ride that feeling again.” Musically, the song starts off slowly, with a serene, almost atmospheric vibe, but eventually becomes more intense, with gritty synths and harsh, jangly guitar notes before calming back down.
“Afterlife” is a delightfully upbeat track which David describes as “a light-hearted and playful contemplation of a life after death.” And though not a dance song per se, its infectious beat will most definitely have your toes tapping and hips swaying. In sharp contrast, “Leave Your Parables” is a dark, rather unsettling track, with somber piano keys, eerie synths and a spooky droning male vocal, all set to a funereal melody. I’m not sure, but the lyrics seem to speak of connecting with a ghostly spirit, and possibly letting go of fears of the unknown: “Lay down your parables at the doorway. Cause when I’m through, you’ll be done. Maybe if you’re ready, look at me. Now here comes the light. Take in the moment, hold it, let in your delight. I’m slow in my movements. Don’t scare him away. He’s slow in his movements. He scares me away.”
Archipelago ends on a highly satisfying note with the gospel-like “Let Love Shine (On Your Misery Now)“, which brings the album’s theme of the power of love and friendship full circle. I love the soaring melody, warm sweeping synths, twangy guitar and arresting vocal harmonies. At 6:19 minutes, it’s a rather long song, and when first hearing it, I thought it went on a bit too long. But after repeated listens, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s length is just right. It’s the perfect ending to a lovely, uplifting album.