Audio Mixer: Misha Hering.
Photographer: Frankie Pike.
South London trio Virginia Wing formed in 2012 and quickly started turning heads with a series of vinyl-only releases showcasing their eerie, angular, and often otherworldly approach to pop. Singer Alice Merida Richards' voice and presentation bear an incredible likeness to the cold brilliance of Broadcast's Trish Keenan, and the band as a whole took notes from a line of experimental indie sounds ranging from the obtuse song structures of Blonde Redhead to the nervy waves of rhythm and noise that bands like This Heat or Wire used as foundations for their sound. Measures of Joy, the band's debut full-length, finds them dead center in a web of moody sounds, creating 12 of their strongest tunes to date. Audible forces of anxiety and melody are in a constant battle throughout the album, with tense arrangements of chopped vocals and far-off drum samples giving way to a more recognizable rock backbone on album-opener "The Body Is a Clear Place," but fading back into confusion almost immediately. Even the relatively straightforward, upbeat organ pop of "Marnie" seems to hold a core of darkness and uneasiness, with airy choruses held in place by Richards' deadpan monotone. The album is marked by bold choices in arrangement and production, like the use of rhythmic vocal samples on "A Complex Outline" or the punk-funk slink and dubby undercurrent of "World Contact." At times, Virginia Wing get dangerously close to exacting the icy psychedelia of Broadcast, but they manage to set themselves apart by bringing in more experimental elements and darker themes. Indeed, darkness is at the center of even the most vibrant of Virginia Wing's songs on Measures of Joy, but the unexpected hookiness and constant morphing of their songs keep that darkness in the distance. ~ Fred Thomas