There are plenty of good things to say about those buzzy bands out of Brooklyn. You know, the ones that get the synth just right, make some dance-your-ass-off music and are usually led by some skinny lad in even skinnier jeans. But there is something about a timeless, classy sound that just can’t be beat — and Vandaveer has this sound nearly perfected.
Vandaveer, which consists of Mark Charles Heidinger and backing vocalist Rose Guerin, makes the kind of music that sounds like it should be enjoyed with a snifter of brandy in a room with dark wood paneling. Everything about Vandaveer is steeped in tradition; the name has been passed down for generations — both on birth certificates and an engraved pocket watch — in Heidinger’s family and songs are more likely to reference classic books than pop-culture icons.
Vandaveer’s sophomore album, Divide & Conquer, has 10 songs featuring simple instrumentation — mainly guitar, piano and drums — that provides an elegant backdrop to the voices of Heidinger and Guerin. Heidinger has the rare kind of voice that is smooth and soothing, but still crackling with energy. Guerin’s voice provides a haunting complement to his — at some times sweet and at other times, seductive.
“Fistful of Swoon” highlights Vandaveer at its best. In the opening lines, Heidinger and Guerin are nearly whispering, sharing secrets with lines such as, “You’ve got lust in your veins.” Their voices swell during the chorus, then drop back again to hint at some kind of trepidation, some caution that will be thrown to the wind a few lines later. A simple snare and the occasional piano chord add to the anxious feeling of the track, as it always seems as if the song could explode at any second.
Most other songs are less fiery and more charming. “Beverly Cleary’s 115th Dream,” for example, pays homage to the kid-lit author, especially her Ramona-Quimby series. The music, which sounds as if it could have been taken out of a music box, is fitting without being juvenile.
Vandaveer should appeal to anyone who has a soft spot for the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Frank Sinatra. There is something sophisticated, yet fresh, about its sound that makes it apparent that it’s not going anywhere any time soon.
— By Executive Editor