It’s very rare that I get the opportunity to cover an iconic release by an equally iconic act. I was over the moon to be sent on Death of A Lover’s Song from Welsh psychedelic shoe-gazers, The Voices. Death of A Lover’s Song was the band’s third album which was released on CD only back in 2009. I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy of their previous album The Sound of Young America and was blown away so I couldn’t wait to get this in my ears.
Now, on the eve of it’s triumphant release, for the first time on vinyl, it’s time to dive in and explore this album’s sonic landscape.
The opening track is called ‘The Setup’ and does a great job of easing us into the album. Sparse instrumentation and breathy vocals coast along until the announcement comes. “Ladies and gentlemen. We are all part of the setup”. What follows is a stunning use of crescendo that Mogwai would love to have written.
The discordant intro to ‘Silver Queen’ has massive Sonic Youth vibes. Then after about two minutes the song suddenly pivots into this heavy shoegaze dream trip. This is vital, engaging listening. It demands your attention. Through the walls of fuzz and feedback there is a glorious melody. Shimmering in the distance as the song fizzles out.
Channelling the spirit of Jason Pierce next on the psyche wig out that is ‘Savant’. Riffing around a single droned note this song has the groove of a jam session that has taken off and is currently orbiting Saturn. The coolest of all the planets!
The curiously titled ‘Flames versus the seventh art’ is up next and does a great job of bringing the listener up to date with what The Voices do best. Ridiculously catchy songs with beautifully textured soundscapes to lose yourself in.
One thing that I really appreciate is when a band take their time and really think out the track list for their albums. What song sounds best in what part of the album. With ‘La Guerra’ following here you can tell the band have thought this order through. The flow between the two is seamless and might have been nice to segue them. That said, the song is dynamite as a stand alone and maintains that wall of noise versus irresistible melody that The Voices do so well.
Just when you think you have this album all sussed out, they hit you with ‘Tempt Your Eyes’. Synth driven; moody riffs abound as we see another side of the band. This song suddenly opens up into widescreen. It has real space and is so different to what precedes it. I smiled the whole way through this track the first time I heard it. Its hypnotising stuff.
As if to further surprise we get ‘West Coast Turnaround’ next. Another glorious melting pot of discordant guitar with spacey synths and lots and lots of room. That is until we enter the final two minutes. The band then intricately layer up everything in their sonic arsenal. Sometimes this can lead to a bit of a cacophony and not be pleasant to listen to. But not here. There is real clarity between all you are hearing at any given moment. The production on this track is exceptional for that reason among all the others.
There’s something about ‘Arrivistes’ that brings Radiohead to mind. It has this interstellar space rock riff underpinning the whole thing which had my head nodding along, eyes shut just soaking it up. There’s something unsettling about the overlapping vocals. Its almost like his inner monologue is trying to take over. The song has genuine threat and menace but you revel in it.
The pace drops slightly has we enter the behemoth that is ‘When the Black Sun Sets’. Featuring, for the first time on this album, a rock ‘n’ roll lead guitar. Like a mashup between The Stooges or MC5 and an event horizon The Voices are not taking prisoners here. This song is massive, not only in run time but in scope. It hits you in waves, ever building. I guarantee, like me, you will hit play again as soon as it fades out.
The album closes with ’Superpowers’. An acid squelchy synth over some broadcast quality recordings leads us into the song and sits beneath some really quite sedate vocals. The contrast between the frantic backing and the chilled-out vocals works beautifully. The Voices surprising the listener once again with yet another sonic palate. It’s almost in EDM territory until the fuzz driven guitars return at one point.
This album is quite the accomplishment and shows a band unafraid of experimentation. I lost count of how many times this album surprised me, made sit up and take notice or just made me smile from ear to ear at the ingenuity of it all. If you like music that just gives and gives then this album is for you. Repeated listens will reveal more and more to you. That. to me, is the sign of greatness.
Death of A Lover’s Song is available for download now from the bands Bandcamp page and right now the good folks at Drone Rock Records have a very limited run of this album for order on two vinyl variants.