Image: RVG – supplied.
Author: Melody Menu
The debut album by Melbourne-based RVG (or Romy Vager Group) pairs sunshine hooks with cathartic introspection that makes the album at once bright and colourful while cloaking something altogether darker.
The title and opening track rings out in splendid shimmering guitar tones, and yet details a society and media quick to judge and condemn. Despite this, the track calls for empathy and basic human decency in our troubled modern world, crowed out by brassy horns and distortion.
Vager’s voice lends the Group a whole extra depth – an ephemeral extra something and grounding force to otherwise cheerful-sounding music, that completely sidesteps dolewave. There’s a harking back to 80s guitar riffs and fun hooks such as the cheeky computer love in ‘IBM’. But while a song like ‘Vincent Van Gough’ may sparkle, the lyrics are carved out of the confessional of a concerned friend.
The pinnacle of A Quality Of Mercy is ‘Feral Beach’, where this sombre-sunshine duality is brought to a head. Playful, ambling guitars and matching percussion meet around heart-rending lyrics. The title might sound comical, but the song is wrapped up in domestic trauma, recounting how it feels to grow up in a volatile and violent household. Vager then takes back the power that has been surrendered in these upbringings as a gentle guitar solo ripples out over hopeful new beginnings.
‘That’s All’, the last track on the album, is an unassuming love ballad that slowly grows in confidence just as a young person gradually works up the courage to approach a long-held crush. Across 5 minutes, the track is a sweet-sounding epic, spanning sparse guitar flourishings and simple domesticities to swell to a lo-fi crescendo in a similar vein to Girls. As Vager sings ‘I’ve been trying not to ruin your day / That’s All that I want’, her self-deprecating yearning gives voice to the little insecurities within all of us that our mere presence is enough to put the other person off, and, hopefully, shuts those voices down completely.
Reflecting on The Go-Betweens’ ‘striped sunlight sound’, RVG lie more in the shadows in-between. RVG have crafted a sound that, while sunny, remains sombre, reflective and deeply moving.
Thursday 2nd of November @ Oxford Art Gallery, Sydney
With Body Type + Sunscreen
Sunday 3rd December @ The Forum, Melbourne
Supporting Camp Cope + Cash Savage & The Last Drinks
Friday 8th – Sunday 10th December @ Meredith Music Festival
Supernatural Amphitheater, Meredith, Victoria