The Van kicks out 'Vanilla Sky'

As the four-piece releases the first video of their new album, I take the opportunity to jibber-jabber on a record that has been on continuous rotation on my speakers.

Published: June 6, 2018Photographs: Nicolai WesthArtist Link: The Van

Road trips. That is what the newest album from The Van is all about.

Four wheels, the road, and no destination except for the next gas station. I know that the band itself much have a much deeper and more visceral for the work that they have poured into this album, but for me…it’s road trips.

From the very first song on the album Tank Chase, a cascade of powering beats and rhythms takes on a rollercoaster retrospection of a time when my only care was where I could I find a used set of mag rims for my beat-up, mustard yellow 1976 Plymouth Volare.

From top to tail, this album is solid. A sort of amalgamation of what the best of classic and garage rock brought to the world, but assembled in a way that is just damn good to listen to.

With songs like Vanilla Sky, their sound is heartfelt and downtempo – and maybe that comes from a history of playing together as a band for over 20 years. The track I Gotta Learn how to Lose has this rhythmic Door’s vibe while Steffen Westmark hits the hook with deeper questions that only come with age. “How do you know if it’s going to get better. Maybe it’s none of your concern. All I know is, I gotta learn.”

Yet following the downtempo moments on the album, The Van kicks it back up a knot with a sticky sweet groove. Each song almost takes you through the best moments of entire back-catalog of The Lovin Spoonful, Van Morrisson, The Doors, Supertramp and host of other classic icons – all within a 4 min run.

In other words, The Van isn’t breaking any records here or creating some never-heard-before sounds on this album. But why would they want too? In this day and age, 90 percent of the time, brand new sounds turn out to be horse shit and rubbish. I may be an old fart with bad feet, but some colloquialisms are timeless. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This album is a powerhouse of talent and skill. There are just enough references to their influencers across the eras of rock and roll, and Motown to keep it interesting, but not so much that it becomes a mash-up of carbon copies.

The talent of four men behind this project simply can’t be ignored. Usually, after playing together for over two decades, shit inevitably gets weird and things fall apart. This is what makes The Van interesting and the album, if you know the history, even more so.

Forsaking their previous project, the boys threw everything out the window – including the old band name – and began again from scratch. Fucking off the big labels and management deals for the raw DIY emotion that they began with in the late 90’s.

The producing the compete on their own merit and dime, they relinquished the pressures of the industry to create for the charts. This album is raw talent and love – an homage of sorts, towards the sounds that drew them to music in the first place.

Depending on your proclivities for the various types of rock and roll, this album will start to chip away at you adrenaline reservoirs, sending a trickle down your ass and tempting your body to do something fast and dangerous. It did for me, or at least it took me back to the days where having a lead foot and an empty head was the preferable human state.


To hear more from The Van, poke your finger or your mouse on the link at the top of the page.

Behind the Scene of The Van music video