It feels unfair to call Veronica Falls self-titled album out for being immature, when that’s the entire point of the twee/C86 sound. Within that context, they’re a perfectly enjoyable band, and fit well into the current zeitgeist. The arrested development of well-off indie twenty-somethings in the 21st Century has allowed for the popularization of some of the most spectacularly boring, emotionally-fake music in a long time. Even though the trend itself is eye-rollingly bland, bands like Veronica Falls aren’t themselves awful. Their album is enjoyable enough musically. They’re excellent at creating harmonies and songs that engage on a musical level, but listening to them, one can get a good grasp of how unfulfilling mere competence is.
Mere competence is the realm of adolescence. When an artist is just getting their legs – whether musician, comedian or painter – they become competent at what they’re doing. They’re not nuanced or compelling, but they can make works that are enjoyable, if not deeply affecting. This is what twee is. By wallowing in teenage adolescence, as artists, they themselves never grow and are continually stuck in the realm of gooey, moon-eyed heartsickness and melodrama – first loves, heartbreak and vows to never love anyone as much. Mature love – rooted in the real life, day-to-day routine of being an adult – is so much more multifaceted and deep, that twee songs can’t help but being shallow since they’re mostly about articulating the emotions of a very specific time in a person’s life.
While certainly many people, old and young, have lovelifes as lacking in meaning and depth as the CW, that doesn’t mean bands like Veronica Falls should be lauded for playing to that audience. They’re a good band, and it’s not as if they’re inauthentically portraying these emotions. It’s just that the emotions they are interested in are all teenagery. “Misery has got a hold of me/Misery, my old friend,” from “Misery” is such an adolescent way of looking at sadness and depression and heartbreak. Even teenagers that actually suffer from depression would find this to be an inarticulate way of understanding it. Other songs on the album seem to be about falling in love with a ghost. This is an interesting idea, but Veronica Falls never do anything with this notion beyond the mundane, and it takes a heroic effort to make such a weird idea commonplace.
Not every song a band writes needs to aim for deep emotional resonance, but there should be something compelling beyond the pure, musical form. Veronica Falls are enjoyable to listen to, but they don’t seem to offer more than that fleeting smile.