Single Review: Various Cruelties – Neon Truth

By on Monday, 23rd May 2011 at 2:00 pm

You probably have come across Various Cruelties at some point; their song ‘If It Wasn’t for You’ was a favourite of Radio1 (Zane Lowe and Rob da Bank) and 6music (Steve Lamacq)’s. And really, do you need more endorsement than from those three heavy hitters of radio? If you happen to be in Bristol, Nottingham or Manchester for this upcoming weekend’s Dot to Dot Festival, I’m sure you will catch them playing this perfect slice of back to basics rock/pop. The group was started by and fronted by Liam O’Donnell, described by their PR as having a voice as if crossed between the lushness of Richard Hawley‘s and Alex Turner, if the Sheffield lad was more downbeat.

What struck me initially about O’Donnell’s voice were the definite notes of Motown in his soulful delivery, which should tick off the all-important “emotional?” box for folks like me who revel in the sounds of the ’50s and ’60s. Today, Various Cruelties are releasing a new single, called ‘Neon Truth’, backed by ‘She is the One’. It is available on limited edition 7″ and digital download (the latter also coming with ‘If It Wasn’t for You’ and ‘Cold as You’). In ‘Neon Truth’, O’Donnell’s voice commands. But everything else is in its place: the drums pound away and drive the track along as guitar noodles just right in the background. While not overtly a dance song, it’s the kind of song you can imagine people kicking up their heels to at the indie disco. Really good.

The B-side, ‘She is the One’, is darker. When you watch shows like The X Factor, it’s obvious that some people have control of their voices and vocal ranges and some just, well, don’t. At all. O’Donnell’s voice is smooth as silk, wrapping around the delicate guitar lines of this track like a lover’s warm embrace. While this single does not scream out “mainstream success”, I really hope the best for this now London-based band. Because talent-wise (and upon only hearing a couple tracks from this group), I wholeheartedly think they deserve it.


‘Neon Truth’, the new single from Various Cruelties, is out today on the band’s own Almanac Recordings.

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