There are a lot of reasons to release a split EP and with both Deas Vail and Farewell Flight both releasing full-lengths this summer/fall, it isn’t hard to guess that the primary reason is to whet some appetites. Since I have had the privilege of hearing both full albums (reviews to come closer to release dates), it is noteworthy that the EP also gives these songs, of which half are lead singles and half are b-sides, a spotlight and character of their own. Farewell Flight’s sound is generally a light folk-influenced rock, yet “Ten Steps In” and “Out For Blood” have a lot more pop and rock sensibilities. Mix in Deas Vail’s power ballad “Sixteen” and the head-bobbing chorus of “Gone,” and the EP is not so much a preview as a bright summer EP with plenty of feel-good melodies and “ooh la la”s.
Surprisingly, it is not the veteran band that has the stronger showing on the EP. Deas Vail may pull the listeners in, but Farewell Flight holds their own in a big way. The band has a winning combination—a range of songwriting, a classic guitar sound, and textured and versatile vocals. “Out for Blood” is divinely catchy and it is almost impossible not to join in with the background singers in the chorus. The band is still young though and could stand to borrow some of EP-mates Deas Vail’s talent for adding interest and surprises to songs instead of sticking to a formula.
Deas Vail’s sampling is a better taste of their upcoming album than Farewell Flight and heralds the next step in the band’s career-long odyssey from atmospheric indie rock to a faster pop/rock sound. These songs are a lot more upbeat than much of their past discography and while I miss the band’s more haunting sound, “Sixteen” and “Gone” are chock full of absolutely perfect guitar and piano riffs and near stadium-ready builds.
The Deas Vail and Farewell Flight Split EP does indeed forecast two noteworthy 2011 releases, revealing a new artist worth watching and foretelling Deas Vail’s artistic progression for their 3rd (or fourth if you count the virtually non-existent self-released debut) full length. However, it also stands on its own as a collection of quality and surprisingly complementary summer jams.