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Posted by on Jan 16, 2023 in Reviews |

CVC – Get Real

(Review by Rob Richards)

Newsoundwales has been singing the praises of CVC for some time now. So, expectations were very high for their debut album – Get Real – which was released on Friday 13th January. The good news is that they have not just met those expectations they have exceeded them. The album positively effervesces in joyful celebration of its musical heritage. Now, I love groundbreakers and iconoclasts as much as anyone but there is also great pleasure to be had from familiar styles of music played with the energy, commitment and musicality that CVC bring to their work.

Mellow opener Hail Mary hits the sweet spot right from the first bars. Next up is the psych pop single Winston, then the easy rock of Knock Knock, followed by Sophie, a sweet love song about reluctance to sing on the part of keyboardist Nanial’s girlfriend. Elsewhere we have hung-over Anogo, a slow blues in Woman of Mine, funk-soaked Music Stuff and the up-tempo Latin groove of Mademoiselle. The high energy of CVC’s live performance is not fully reflected on this album but it is captured in Track 6 Good Morning Vietnam and in Track 10, the rip-roaring Docking the Pay – a song which had crowds bouncing and singing along at the festivals which CVC played in 2022. They could have stopped there – but instead the album concludes with American Ultra, a loose but intriguing ramble which achieves what I assume to be its objective, in that it makes you want to go back to the beginning and enjoy it all over again.

Lyrics which might look like flat prose when printed on the cover notes, reveal a strong feeling for the rhythm of language when they are melded with the music. They don’t expound any profound political or philosophical insights – and why should they? – just a few glimpses into the lives and concerns of the 6 guys who make up the band.
The first two letters of CVC stand for Church Village, the South Wales community where the boys grew up talking to, listening to and even playing alongside musicians whose own love for music was formed in the heyday of the late60s/early 70s and who place a high value on learning your craft. Those influences clearly show on this album. Get Real proves, I think, that music can be evocative of earlier eras without being derivative; the music here pulses with life which is very much of the now. The other C in CVC is for Collective and it as a collective that CVC really shine. Fundamental, of course, are the bass and drums – always on it, they can swing, they can roll, they can pop and even do Latin on Mademoiselle. While excellent guitar work abounds (delicate on Sophie, cascading in Mademoiselle) it used sparingly and always geared to enhance the song rather than show off the undoubted skills of the player. It is the vocals, however, where CVC really shine. In Cesco (Francesco Orsini) CVC have a very expressive singer who seems to comfortably inhabit whatever style they choose to play. Then, add to that some of the finest three-part harmony that you will hear anywhere.

I remember saying 3 years ago that I loved what CVC were doing then but I was concerned that they just lacked that something special – a clear identity, an individual sound – that would lift them from the very good to the really exceptional. Well, there are a few bands who managed to emerge much stronger from the musical desert that was lockdown. And CVC are one of them. They now clearly know who they are and what they are good at and there is now an immediately recognisable ‘CVC sound’.