Every person has those albums that hold a special place in their heart. Whether it be due to the evocative, nostalgia-inducing powers they hold, or the euphoric feeling they never fail to give us, they are essential pieces of art that nestle neatly into a cornerstone of the mind. I was lucky enough to get an exclusive listen to VASA’s long-awaited second album Heroics, out on 21st February on Dome A Records, and I do not doubt that it will find itself comfortably carried forward in the hearts of many.
The Scottish post-rockers debut album Colours was met with critical acclaim, impressing many of the UK’s mainstream media outlets, and now they’ve finally returned with their second offering, an album that sets out to cover the themes of, well, life. The absence of lyrics in post-rock may seem to indicate a lack of meaning to some, but quite the opposite is true when it comes to Heroics. The music forced me to sit back and consider the subjects that were being conveyed through the most intangible, indescribable form of art, and I’d like to tell you about some of the feelings it reflected back into me.
Opening track Childhood gives you a taste of what’s in store. It is strong, triumphant and hopeful, and makes you feel as if you’re stood atop a mountain peak ready to take on the world. In simple terms, as the title suggests, it evokes the boundless hope and untapped potential of childhood.
We then move onto Heroics, the debut single from the album for a good reason. It’s an exciting and rhythmic track, and the time spent listening to it is much like being a kid again for just three minutes, and spending those minutes living inside your favourite arcade game. Pedal to the metal fun. Oddly, “Fun” isn’t a term often used to describe the genre of post-rock, but VASA are quite effectively flipping that stereotype on its head. I suppose the music doesn’t take itself too seriously because it doesn’t need to, the sheer joy and technical prowess of the musicians do everything required.
Sadly, innocence doesn’t last forever, and we’re reminded of this in track four, Adolescence. For many of us, adolescence is a time in which it feels as though the world is at your feet, but you might just fall off at any second, and the song depicts that most strange of sensations very powerfully. It brought back memories of a time when I thought I knew everything, living in a false state of ultra confidence, but in actuality, I was terrified of the future.
Prom Night struck me with an unusual familiarity, reminding me of the cocktail of gusto, bravado and nerves I felt at my prom night, which ultimately proved to be a disappointing disaster. However, the song is quite the opposite and was a highlight of the album for me. It’s a dynamic soundscape, setting and changing moods with ease, both woeful and hopeful.
Onto the scariest part of life, Adulthood, when we find out who we really are. This might be Heroics’ most mature track, as the previous themes become realised in this uplifting epic, somewhat reminiscent of Outro by M83. I was disappointed to notice that the album was nearing its end, however, as the final moments of the eight-minute masterclass Settle faded out, I was left feeling thankful for being taken along for the ride, and grateful for the chaos of life.
VASA are getting ready for their February 2020 tour, and if Heroics is anything to go by, they’re going to tear it up this year.