EP Review: Villanelle & The Northern Wonder – Dark Days At The Grand

Dark Days At The Grand is the new four track EP from indie rock duo Villanelle & The Northern Wonder.

By Graeme Smith

Starting as a solo project in Manchester, writer and vocalist Kieran Greville performed as Villanelle & The Northern Wonder for a slew of local gigs. It was only last year when the act became duo, with Dan Shaw coming on board as a permanent member. The two produce a big sound for a duo. Dark Days At The Grand feels like the product of a five-piece band.

Each of the EP’s four-tracks has a distinct character but they all exist within the same time and space – namely a bygone age where rock and roll was slow and deliberate, guitars echoing with each note plucked with purpose. Think The Shadows or more contemporarily The Last Shadow Puppets. The vocals drawl with a world weariness. They give a sense that the songs were truly written during dark days.

The EP takes a more experimental tone as it progresses. Opener Clever Girl feels distinctly accessible and troubadour-esque. Room 30 is sultry and seductive. The percussion-heavy Oh God has creeping elements of jazz improvisation that distinguishes Villanelle & The Northern Wonder from similar acts. By the time Horoscope Wytch starts playing, we’ve ventured from indie rock to full-blown psych. It’s could be on the soundtrack of a ’70s video nasty. It’s also the track that ties in the album artwork (created by Phoebe Walker) – a young lady bound and blindfolded and no doubt headed to be burned at the stake.

Villanelle & The Northern Wonder take inspiration from Father John Misty, Josh Homme, and Alex Turner of the previously mentioned Last Shadow Puppets. Fans of any of those acts with find a lot to love about Dark Days At The Grand. Check out the EP below. If you like what you hear, there’s more like it on our Goldilocks playlist on Spotify.