Written by Kai Feltham
As the Christmas period slowly ekes its way into our lives, recent years has seen one simple two-minute television slot cement its place into festive tradition. That is of course, the John Lewis Christmas advert. From a present for a lonely penguin to this year’s dog on a trampoline, John Lewis never fail to build up social media excitement around their latest festive offerings.
Little do people know however that the company have a custom for offering the musical accompaniment to up-and-coming artists, and that trend is no different with this year’s output. In 2010 Ellie Goulding was given the reins, in 2014 it was Tom O’Dell’s turn and 2015 introduced pint-sized singer AURORA covering Oasis’s Half The World Away. This year the responsibility was placed in the hands of south London based electronic indie-pop outfit Vaults, providing a heart-wrenching, soaring cover of Randy Crawford’s One Day I’ll Fly Away.
The song itself is centred around the vocals of singer and enigmatic front woman Blythe Pepino. A brooding string section builds and recedes around her stirring voice, almost resembling a romantic number from musical theatre. As the track begins to build, the string sections surge to a resounding crescendo, boosted again by Pepino’s rousing vocals. The cover is a success, and fits the mould of the tear-jerking John Lewis Christmas advert slots of recent years.
Do not be fooled though, for Vaults’ regular output is far from revolving around tear-jerking, orchestral ballads. With singles and EPs released since 2013, Vaults are nothing new to their scene, but have only just announced the release of their debut album, due 2nd December.
Entitled Caught In Still Life the album is set to consist of 13 tracks, rounded off by their Randy Crawford cover. Earlier singles Lifespan, Cry No More and One Last Night outlined Vaults’ style with brooding electro-pop of a cinematic nature centred around the vocal prowess of Blythe Pepino. Their growing popularity within their scene was further compounded by Pepino’s guest vocal slot on Gorgon City’s All Four Walls.
Unashamedly individual and artistically intriguing, Vaults are a musical project to keep an eye for in future. Blythe Pepino, along with multi-instrumentalist Barney Freeman and producer / musician Ben Vella are set to really go places in 2017. The nationwide exposure of the John Lewis advertisement slot will only serve to boost their rise, but the song itself does not offer a true indication of what the band are about.
One Day I’ll Fly Away is a triumph, but look beyond it and you will find the real intrigue that Vaults provide in their music. Combining multi-instrumental elements with electronic production and soaring vocals is nothing new, but Vaults possess something truly unique about them. Borne out of their explicit attention to artistic detail in videos and music, Vaults succeed in producing electronic indie-pop to suit all ears. Their new album in a couple of weeks’ time is one to get your hands on without a moment’s hesitation.
Contrast the work of Vaults in the 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert with their live performance of Lifespan from earlier this year to see the variety they have on offer.
Listen to Vaults perform their mesmerising single Lifespan live at Heaven here: