After a series of singles and an EP, the Verlaines released their first full-length album Hallelujah – All the Way Home in 1985. Just like their early releases, at the heart of these songs were tales of drunkards and romantics all punctuated by guitar blasts and instrumental flourishes. It was the perfect debut for a band that would continue on for over 30-years to a career, filled with constantly building intensity, all the while refusing to stick to one pitch or tone. Even the more straightforward songs can’t help but take unexpected turns, and it is no wonder that tracks such as “The Ballad of Harry Noryb” and “Phil Too?” rapidly became highlights of any Verlaines’ show?
Tying it all together, Juvenilia is a compilation of the Verlaines’ brilliant early singles and EPs. First released on vinyl in 1987 and later reissued on CD with bonus tracks in 1993, it documents the band’s early history and is the perfect introduction to one of New Zealand’s greatest bands. Opening with the irrepressible “Death and the Maiden,” a song that for many is archetypal of the group’s deft ability to wield a pop hook, Juvenilia is a constant display of the unstoppable songwriting skills of vocalist/guitarist Graeme Downes.