Written By Rachel Hunt | Photos By Suzuran Photography
“I feel like it’s easier to observe in hindsight, and this is still ahead of us,” says lead singer Liz Kelly, referring to The Village Bicycle’s upcoming album across a table with two coffees in between us, at Loop in Tremont. “We’re very much inside of it right now, so it’s hard to get the distance to see it.”
If she had to sum it up, the equation for this new album seems to be derived from eight months of intense writing after re-entering academia and developing a bond with their current line-up, including Karah Vance on keys, Ty Craemer on bass, and Devin Randazzo on drums. With a more psychedelic sound and a well-rounded rhythm section, they are ready to record later this month, entrusting Ian Hersey of Carefree Studios in Brooklyn, New York.
“We put out a self-titled CD ourselves,” Kelly says, referring to an early version of the group made up of Vance, Megan Poletti, Eric Shulte, and Ryan Shobe back in 2012. “It has more roots in folky-influenced, less experimental or driving, very mellow indie rock. A lot of that came from my background with the Davenport Collective and The Dreadful Yawns.” Kelly cites her work with songwriter Ben Gmetro as contributing to The Village Bicycle’s early sound and process.
“The first song I ever wrote is on that CD. I taught myself how to play guitar by writing those songs. As more time passed between me being in The Yawns and The Village Bicycle, the more I started to develop style and figure out my own voice. I feel like that first CD is very much not my voice and that the new material is.”
In 2016, The Village Bicycle released a seven-song cassette put out by Jurassic Pop called Fits and Starts. “The songs that were on the tape were written over the course of three years. It took a long time to put them out,” she admits. “When I was writing those other songs I was drinking a lot, I was partying a lot, and I was sort of living for that instead of living for the work. You can probably hear that in those songs too, there’s a lot of partying going on.”
What is clear on Fits and Starts are the vibrantly creative, aggressive pop songs inhabiting the release and how much they have to say with relatively few words. It is loud, frantic, and intensely melodic, blending together a little new wave synth with grungy tongue-in-cheek sass. “People know the words,” Kelly says of the song “Hot Mom”. “It’s a weird thing to be up there and see people singing along. I can tell you that there is a very special, unique feeling when you’re singing your words and you look out onto the audience and they are singing with you. There’s nothing like it.”
The song “Sprankles” was chosen recently for inclusion on Aquabear Legion Vol. 6, an all-Ohio, double LP compilation. The track is a coursing, jubilant declaration of self-sufficiency. There are several tracks on Fits and Starts imbued with girl power, written from Kelly’s perspective as a feminist-minded individual combating society’s expectations of her and other women.
“As we get further into what’s happening in the country, our place in the world, and what really feels like the injustices that are being committed; I’m hopeful that the band will be a positive voice and I want the music to help communicate that we won’t stand for it and that we are going to fight,” Kelly says of long running political themes in their music and a continued commitment to challenging their audience.
“This album I feel is more clear-eyed. It’s more straightforward as far as how I am as a songwriter and a person. It’s also very collaborative, the process of writing the songs usually is, but I think here more so.” Kelly pieces together the bones for what she describes as the song’s skeleton, handing it over to Craemer and Randazzo for muscle and heart, then Vance to finish it off aesthetically, before giving it a breath of life on stage.
You can see it all come together during Brite Winter on the McCarthy’s Stage at 6:40 p.m. and get a sneak peak of some new songs as well as a selection of their favorites. “We’ve hit a spring of creativity and it really flowed organically and naturally. You’re always sort of hopeful that you’re topping yourself,” she says. “You have every type of creative doubt in the world, but at the end of the day I really feel these songs are our best effort so far.”