The most impressive part of Bad Veins' eponymous album is how the duo manages to sound like a multitude of musicians piling on instruments, manically layering each part, stuffing every song like a bursting Thanksgiving turkey—and, still, it makes you feel lonely. Maybe it's the minor key approach that creates a feeling of heartbreak or existential crisis. The layers just amplify the angst.
At any rate, the combination of Ben Davis' velveteen vocals—distressed to perfect imperfection—and the array of instruments looped on a cassette tape he calls "Irene" hit the sweet spot when it comes to catchy melodrama. Davis and drummer Sebastien Schultz (and their cassette tape, which includes horns, ambient static, psychedelic synth, piano and violins) explore no new territory, but they craftily redesign an old sound.
"Found" has the most allure—too bad they blow their wad by having it be the first track. Lyrics mostly side on the clever and only sometimes slip into the insipid. And though "Cross-eyed" limps and drags along in an awkward gait, by the time they reach the final track, "Go Home," Davis' vocal dragging hits home, stitching together the final notes with rhythmic elegance.
Bad Veins play the Palace Thursday, Sept. 10, at 9 PM with Places and Division Day. $7.