Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls (Slumberland)

Slumberland Records has been going through quite a renaissance these past few years, with an influx of new and exciting bands making the label more popular now than in its early-’90s heyday. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart get the most ink, but London quartet Veronica Falls may be the best act on the Slumberland roster right now, based on their debut album. Their music falls in line with what you expect from a Slumberland band – Velvets-inspired noise-pop softened with the harmonies and sweetness of ’60s girl groups, with just a pinch of amatuerism – but these guys and girls simply do it better than anyone else. Their greatest strength is their ability to maintain a thrillingly constant tension between light and darker shades, and they also seem to always know the perfect moment to kick a song into a galloping double-time or to slow it down. They’ve also got an interesting guitar duo in Roxanne Clifford (also the lead singer) and James Hoare, both of whom spend most of the album’s 36 minutes trying to out-Sterling Morrison the other (especially on “Right Side Of  My Brain”). 2011 may not be over yet, but as of late-November this could be the debut album of the year.