By Viva Voce
The follow up to their acclaimed international debut The Heat Can Melt Your Brain sees man and wife team Viva Voce broaden their sound... just. The writing feels as if most of the material grew out of jams in which they discovered a good riff on which to feast. For this reason there is rarely a sense of premeditation but more a shaping after the fact. What this means to your average listener is learning to live with the lack of immediate pre-conceived pop melodies. Songs rarely feel as if they mean anything but maybe forgiven for the musical soundscapes conjured up by just 2 musicians... and countless overdubs of course. Flaming Lips, Beach Boys, Nada Surf, Ambulance Ltd can all be heard in the stoned, sleepy and lazy guitar work only American bands know how to cook up. For the most part the album continues exactly where its predecessor left off with a smattering of the spaced out and the groovy mixed with the odd tasty alt-rock riff. Beefy bass licks amble along with jangly acoustics over mesmerising drums while starry vocals drift in from him or her. Occasional handy work with some Joey Santiago style guitar slices ensures however the menu is never repetitive. Single "From The Devil Himself" pounds along in a Beach Boys vibe. "So Many Miles" uses the jam-around-a-central-riff school of attack before tumbling into chaos. "We Do Not Fuck Around" is a rare song amongst tunes and builds from a spaced out piano intro to a pounding summer US College rock chant. "Faster than a Dead Horse" is a driving lo-fi number which accommodates some thunderous guitar work and "Helicopter" is a chill out master-class with a hypnotic revolving bass line.
Whether the band has moved on from their previous album is not immediately clear. Although the length of the album gives an impression of excess baggage, this collection of songs certainly feels more coherent and there are a number of excellent tracks and ideas. Maybe on reflection it just lacks some of the na´ve sparkle and smiles that made their debut such a cult success, but it is sure to please fans.