Music Reviews

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Artist: Versailles (@)
Title: Sacrifice
Format: CD EP
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Nearly all-girl band Versailles (not to be confused with other bands named Versailles, of which there are a few) from Los Angeles consists of Dianna St. Hilaire- Vocals, Keytar, Programming; Stephanie Rose- Bass; Marie Ilene- Drums, with Shaun Richards on Guitar. From the nice color photo they sent with the one-sheet, these gals look like your typical goth-clubbers and the music on 'Sacrifice' doesn't deny that. It wasn't always that way for Versailles; from the sound of their previous albums, singer Dianna was labeled a "Gothic Tori Amos" and that's not far off the mark, as both 'Believe' and 'Broken Dolls' sound much more commercial and somewhat more polished than 'Sacrifice'. (There is good deal more piano on those albums too.) They've toured the U.S. with Ego Likeness, Voltaire, New Model Army, Bella Morte, etc., and maybe they'll be coming to a goth club near you someday soon.

What Versailles have done on their 4-track EP 'Sacrifice' is step back in time to the 90's (maybe even the 80's) with a more retro gothy synthpop sound. Gee'¦this sounds familiar'¦maybe a bit too familiar'¦in fact, this sounds a lot like'¦THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE, a female-fronted retro synth-poppy band from Toronto. But it's Birthday Massacre light. (Those folks can get loud and heavy more often than not.) While Dianna is no Chibi she still has a very pleasing melodic voice. The synth and bass are pretty minimal, and the drums, well, that sounds like a drum machine to me, and that's pretty minimal too. Guitar is consistent with early 90's goth.

While the songs are convincing on 'Sacrifice' I don't really hear any big hits. 'Take My Life' is probably the closest to what the Birthday Massacre have done (in concept if not execution), but my favorite off the EP was 'Game'. The song seemed to epitomize the sound of an era to me in its disaffected way. I could even imagine it on some indie film soundtrack. I'm a bit ambivalent about the production on 'Sacrifice'; on one hand it is very retro-sounding, but on the other, quite bass-heavy and seems to be lacking in power and dynamics. Still, at 6 bucks, if you're a sucker for gothy (mostly) female synthpop bands as I am, it's not a bad purchase. On future endeavors, I'd like to hear Versailles put a little more oomph and drama into their sound and write a hit song or two. (They're undoubtedly capable of it.) It's worth a trip to their website just to check out their photos (corset, ripped stockings, buckled platform boots, OH MY!). I think it's harder for bands from L.A. to make it than anywhere else as there is just so much competition there. Persevere, ladies, persevere!




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