Viva Voce back for more
Viva Voce: The Future Will Destroy You
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Label: Vanguard Records
Rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars
The latin translation of the term “Viva voce” is “living with voice.” That seems fitting when you listen to the latest album by the Portland group of the same name. Moreso than in the past, the band seems to have found its true voice.
Last time I wrote about Viva Voce, I mentioned that their album “Rose City” left me excited for whatever might come next. That moment is upon us with their slightly-more-major-label release “The Future Will Destroy You.”
Released through one of the music industry’s indie giants, Vanguard Records (home to the likes of Indigo Girls, Matt Nathanson, and Mindy Smith, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, among many others), this husband and wife duo seems ready to take on the world with their voice, both musically and lyrically, on “The Future Will Destroy You.”
The album process was completed in just four weeks by the husband-and-wife team of Kevin and Anita Robinson in their home studio here in Portland.
“This is Viva Voce getting back to what it is,” Anita says of the two of them being the only ones present during the writing/recording process.
Kevin adds, “The creative wheels were really greased. The way we write and record just totally clicked on this record. I feel like it realizes the potential all of our previous albums hinted at.”
“Basically, with each record we’re just trying to find a way to create the music that’s been living in our heads since the last one,” Anita adds.
A strong opening track is a must-have for any good album. As with the first chapter of a novel or the introductory paragraph to a magazine article, it has to hook you and entice you to stick around for the rest. This album’s first song “Plästic Rädio” does a solid job of this. The laid-back keyboards and droning guitars immediately give “The Future Will Destroy You” a more appealing and accessible feeling than “Rose City.” It actually put me in mind of a swelteringly hot Los Angeles afternoon.
Being a drummer, I’m partial to a good drum part. The album’s title track has a good one. This song has muffled vocals, fuzzy guitars, and it just feels groovy. If there is an overarching feeling that goes along with the title of this album, this song has it. This song would fit the movie version of a Kurt Vonnegut book
Overall, “The Future Will Destroy You” has a more clear direction than “Rose City,” almost as though it were a concept album. It still has the hazy and atmospheric moments present in Viva Voce’s past work, but it feels like this album follows a more definitive and accessible path with its apocalyptic concept, its catchy hooks and Anita taking more of an official lead-singer role.
If the title suggests the Robinsons’ outlook on things to come, then the sound of the record couldn’t be more contradictory. Like everyone on some level, I have my own reservations about the direction humanity is headed in years to come, but based on the sound of this album, the future might not be that bad a place.
Viva Voce is bringing these songs to Portland at The Crystal Ballroom on September 8 as part of this year’s Music Fest NW .