Van Houten: at The Brudenell on 29 March

The Leeds shoegaze band released their debut album ‘The Tallest Room’ on 22 March, via groundbreaking new label imprint Clue Records / EMI North.

Founded on seven years of friendship through times thick and thin and a shared obsession with exploring the fuzziest, far-out corners of 90’s guitar music, Leeds-based sextet Van Houten is ready to show us what they’ve been busy cooking up… 

The Tallest Room’ is worth the wait. Having enlisted the ears and ideas of producer Alex Greaves (bdrmmWorking Men’s ClubBloc Party), the album is a captivating melting pot of eclectic influences, conflicting emotions and earworm hooks that celebrates the journey the band has been on and looks forward to the future with optimism, whatever it may hold.

They have cleverly distilled their choicest lo-fi, shoegaze and garage rock inspirations into eight eagerly-awaited tracks of dreamy pop perfection.

The last seven years have seen all manner of ups and downs for Van Houten, but supporting each other through it all has been key to the band defining themselves and their distinctive sound, which is at once melancholic, carefree, upbeat and furious. The rising wall of feedback that introduces album opener ‘Black and White’ gives way to hypnotic grooves and laid back hooks that surround the listener in fuzzed out nostalgia and the electrifying feeling of potential energy. However, singer and guitarist Louis Sadler’s refrain of “I wonder where you’ve gone / Where you’ve been all along” is insistent and direct; tapping into the band’s impressive musical maturity and perspective, introducing a collective disdain for the increasingly prevalent cultural close-mindedness that serves as a recurring theme throughout the album.

Lead single ‘Coming of Age’ approaches the complexity of this issue from another angle, reframing their position as one of optimism and hope for the future as Sadler states “This song explains the main theme of the record which is gaining perspective, growing, and moving forwards”. Swirling major key synths and driving grooves accompany the resounding rhyming couplet “cos we’re coming of age, and there’s still so much to say”, defiantly marking Van Houten’s territory at the forefront of the next generation of guitar music.

Crucially, there’s still room for joy in the lives of Van Houten as the short and sugar-sweet ‘Only Wanna Be With You’ proves in under two minutes whilst the blissed-out, krautrock minimalism of ‘Panoramic View’ sits at the centre of the record and perfectly sums up exactly what makes Van Houten tick. “It’s about going through an often painful, yet necessary process of reflection and growth” and Sadler’s understated phrase “got a panoramic view from the tallest room” encapsulates everything the band have seen, heard and been through and champions appreciating life from a different perspective.

Within this full length lies an honesty & vulnerability that we can all find solace in as Sadlers discloses “our debut feels like the first real milestone in our musical journey. For us, this record represents a new beginning for us as a band and also me personally. Over the past couple of years while we’ve been writing I’ve gone through some massive changes that have really sculpted my outlook and it’s naturally bled into our music… It’s about gaining perspective, moving forwards and while it acknowledges darker experiences and feelings, it’s ultimately about moving on.“

Headline Shows – Live Dates:

23 MAR | Ritual Union Festival, Bristol

29 MAR | Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

02 APR | The Hope & Ruin, Brighton

03 APR | The Lexington, London 

04 APR | Hare & Hounds | Birmingham 

05 APR | The Bodega, Nottingham 

06 APR | YES, Manchester 

12 APR | Play Brew Co, Middlesbrough

13 APR | King Tuts, Glasgow 

03 MAY | The Boileroom, Guildford w/ The Orielles

04 MAY | Wanderlust Festival, Southampton 

05 MAY | Portland Arms, Cambridge 


Black and White

Never Did Come Back 

Coming Of Age 

Panoramic View

Note To Self 

I Only Wanna Be 

Head Straight 

I Let You 

Van Houten are: 

Louis Sadler – Vocals / Guitar

Henry Beaumont – Bass

Jake Ribton – Guitar

Jake Wrigglesworth – Keys

Ewan Barr – Guitar

Lachlan Banner – Drums

All photography by Sarah Oglesby.

Find Van Houten online:

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