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Growing Pains
Growing Pains

Growing Pains

London indie-pop quartet Veronica Falls are Waiting for Something to Happen. By Nick Duerden. Photographed by Christina Smith

“All my life I’ve thought that, one day, I’ll realise what I want and then everything will be fine; I’ll be sorted. But I think we all have to grow up and realise that that will probably never happen, and that you just have to accept it.” Roxanne Clifford says this pleasantly, no doubt a smile on her lips, but even over the phone you can hear a tinge of melancholy in her voice—a melancholy that’s representative of the band she fronts, Veronica Falls. A London-based quartet comprising Clifford alongside Patrick Doyle, James Hoare, and Marion Herbain, Veronica Falls are a 21st-century Lush with echoes of Slowdive, making the kind of winsome, fuzzy indie pop that was once called shoegaze. Their imminent second album, Waiting For Something to Happen, finds them at a crossroads, Clifford insists, that all too many twentysomethings will identify with.

“It might sound cheesy to suggest it, but I think this feeling of always waiting for something to happen—something that actually never happens at all—is really common,” Clifford says in an east London photo studio. “I’m not suggesting it’s a modern condition or anything, and for all I know people have always felt like this. It’s just that we articulate it more now.”

She certainly does throughout the band’s new album, which reels in a peculiarly British, and rather fetching, manner, extolling if not quite the virtues then at least the realities of a life filled with aimlessness: One song is called “Broken Toy,” another “So Tired.” Where other acts—rappers, say, or surly emo kids—would likely translate this into angst directed at the wider world, Veronica Falls do so much more gently, and via the kind of deadpan ennui Morrissey would applaud. “We’re not particularly depressive, no, but I’m definitely introspective, and a bit of a romantic as well,” Clifford muses. “I’ve never fit into a particular mould. I just move through life wistfully, and I rationalise things differently.”

The band formed three years ago while Clifford, now 29 and originally from Manchester, was at art school in Glasgow. She was there studying photography. This does not mean, however, that she wanted to become a photographer. “I never really had any ambition, to be honest,” she says with a laugh. “I found myself playing in lots of bands, but again, there was never any grand plan to it. It’s counter-productive, I think, to set too high expectations of yourself. We made music because we liked to make music. That was pretty much it.”

Nevertheless, they did focus enough to sign a recording contract and, in 2011, release a self-titled debut album. They also managed to tour the U.S. on four separate occasions, each time to more appreciative crowds. Clifford says she likes touring, but that this also comes with its own set of complications. “It’s stressful, isn’t it? It can be quite hard when you spend that amount of time with each other day in, day out. Paranoia creeps in. But we learned how to deal with it all, how to give one another space. And playing a great show always made everything better.”

They return to the U.S. in March, and she is already anticipating more stress, more paranoia. It comes with the territory—one that she is still carefully negotiating. “Music wasn’t my plan A. There never was a plan A. You know, I went to art school, and then somehow fell into music. I don’t know if I’ll be doing this forever, but I do know that, in one way or another, I will always be writing songs. It just feels like the most natural thing.” She lets out a quiet laugh. “And you should do the things that feel most natural to you, right?”