The Vanilla have charted their way through the South African music scene over the past two years with indie rock carefully crafted for mass consumption. Their sound has always retained just enough guitar edge for them to steer clear of the indie pop category, but their latest single “Canopies” sees them fully embracing the pop-rock side of their music.
The opening guitar chords drip with pop-rock sensibility as the band delivers a neat package of jangling four-chord riffs, effervescent melodies and soothing vocal harmonies. It is a formula that guarantees most South African bands with the right amount of drive success in the South African music industry. It is the kind of formula that produces songs that are lapped up by the commercial listener in South Africa, and The Vanilla delivers this formula in an effortlessly and remarkably brilliant way. I cannot deny that the band is talented and that the small amount of success they have already experienced is not without merit.
However, “Canopies” is just another pop-rock song with a faux indie-rock meets pop exterior. The Vanilla isn’t doing anything new or creative, and are merely just contributing to the ever-stagnating pool of indie artists that struggle to gain relevance in a music industry that is gradually moving away from consuming artists that all sound the same or follow the same formula. The problem is that The Vanilla is very likely to not experience much success with this carefully crafted commercial sound as they are entering a playing field that is filled with bands that sound exactly like them, and many of those bands have had the luxury of being around for much longer than The Vanilla. My advice to The Vanilla is to maybe get into the studio and try something new – invent a sound that sticks to their indie rock roots but also reaches out of their comfort zone and brings something new and exciting to the listener.