The debut from Aussies RVG (Romy Vager Group) came a bit out of the blue, at least around here. The album was short, precise, and poised, but its polish was offset by its equal attention to emotionally bare and ravaged lyrics delivered by Vager as impassioned pleas for understanding. As the band gained traction and eventually the backing of UK indie Fire Records, they’ve proven that a larger scale doesn’t diminish the impact of their delivery in the least. Feral slides onto the speakers like an instant classic – boiling the bones of the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, Patti Smith, Siouxsie, and The Go-Betweens into a haze of jangle, crushed velvet harmonies, and sneered sincerity. Between the heartbreak that haunts the bulk of these influences, Vager sets her sights on larger picture topics that give the angst a heft that reverberates throughout the album. Mental illness, transphobia, family estrangement, and the gnawing realities of modern living all find their way into Feral, molding it into a staggering work of modern misery and resilience that could easily have haunted the radio a few decades prior.
While baring the soul has become requisite in many genres lately, the band’s combination of 80’s jangle and a lived-in grandiosity is unmatched in rock of late. Bands can preen and pretend, but they can’t command a chorus the way Romy can. The magnetism of the band’s figurehead is unshakable. She’s a force, a fire that fuels the band. Her hurt marks the soul of the listener, leaving an impression that doesn’t fade soon after the last notes fade away on the air. Anguish, rage, depression, repulsion, resilience, redemption — they all play a part in the tapestry of Feral — and each new listen opens the laceration wider, but lets it heal harder the next day. For whatever knocks you down, RVG is there to lift you back up and put the pieces in order, or at the very least let you know that they’ve been rendered asunder and are still around to show the scars. This is a vital album for 2020, or any year for that matter.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.