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Coming less than a year after Champs’s debut Down Like Gold, there is no whiff of “difficult second album” syndrome to Vamala.
The Isle of Wight duo have some effective pop tricks up their sleeve: lead single Desire dispenses with an instrumental introduction, beginning with vocals instead (“It starts with explosions … ”); one instrumental passage nods to Bronski Beat’s synthpop fave Smalltown Boy; and their repetition of the word “echo” is so ludicrously effective that you wonder why no one’s done it before. The production, by Boe Weaver, is sparse on songs such as Running and the title track, which carry their wintry sadness with the lightness of Hot Chip, while a picked acoustic guitar adorns Forever Be Upstanding at the Door and Roll Me Out. Vamala breaks no musical boundaries, but the melody of a song such as Sophia has the indelibility of the Bee Gees – indeed, Michael Champion’s voice has a frailty reminiscent of Robin Gibb. - The Guardian