Jun 26, 2009 Issue #26 Spring 2009 - Bat For Lashes
Although their previous effort, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, was an admirable showcase of Anita Robinson's guitar-shredding psychedelic rock assault, the album itself worked like most Viva Voce releases: an unfocused mishmash of styles simultaneously shot out of a cannon onto a canvas Jackson Pollock- style. Husband and wife duo Kevin and Anita Robinson's habit of throwing in everything and the kitchen sink (with varied results) is something Viva Voce has been slowly shedding with each successive release. Rose City is not only the most unified album of Viva Voce's career, but it also contains the Robinsons' strongest collection of tracks.
Perhaps the largest change in the Viva Voce repertoire is the addition of Corrina Repp and Evan Railton. Since the Robinsons have always released albums that sounded like a full band, it only makes sense they actually became one. Thankfully the overwhelming psychedelic histrionics have been reined in here, lending Rose City a more streamlined darkly sinister atmosphere, filled with nefarious jangly hooks and resonating atmospherics, consistently supporting the intertwined harmonies. A throbbing bass line combined with Anita's howling guitar hooks and Kevin's cool-as-ice vocal delivery make "Catch and Release" the most addictively thrilling rock track the band has ever recorded. Unfortunately, there isn't another rocker on Rose City that can truly live up to it, which is probably why Viva Voce decided to delve further into darker blue-motel-laced slow burners such as the gorgeous reverberating twang of "Red Letter Day" or the heavenly harmonies of the sparse "Midnight Sun." Spartan is perhaps the best word to describe Rose City. All the unnecessary bells, whistles, and kitchen sinks have been stripped away, leaving the tracks room to breathe freely. Instead of bombarding the listener, Viva Voce has finally learned the invaluable lesson of how to engage them. (www.vivavoce.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 6/10