The Voidz — Virtue ANALYSIS & REVIEW
When discussing our likes and dislikes in music, especially larger works such as albums, the term “consistency” can come up quite a bit as a wholly positive connotation. I agree that some form of consistency is always nice, especially if it’s the recurrence of loveable techniques, but this album is one that shows how the absence of musical consistency is not necessarily bad or negative. In fact, it shows a positive side to being all over the place in terms of priorities, song construction, and techniques for each piece, as it becomes more likely that at least something will resonate with the listener in a strong way to make the experience worthwhile.
In talking overall style, it’s largely the same throughout, with energetic guitars, emotionally-charged vocals, and general shock value decisions in harmonic direction or textural additions, being if nothing else a thought-provoking postmodern take on rock n’ roll. Within their actual musical decisions, though, there were many hits and misses without much correlation to each other, with their heavy experimentation on every level being quite a mixed bag.
This album does tilt to the generally positive side in that regard for two main reasons. One being that when the underlying harmony was restless and the most dominating component to the song’s direction, as it was for the majority of the album, it was always interesting and gave quite an enjoyable flair. My favorite examples of this include “ALieNNatioN”, “All Words Are Made Up” and “We’re Where We Were”. Even when on the wilder and less succinct side, as in “Pyramid of Bones” and “One of the Ones”, the harmony still carried a strong amount of captivation.
With harmonic restlessness as one positive, the other overall positive was the general restlessness in melodic roles, as no dull decision in shape or pitch collection was ever repeated or became a recurring burden. This was not as melodically strong of an album as I’d have hoped, as there were indeed several restrictive and boring patterns in the main melodic layer that hindered the music from moving anywhere exciting, as in “Wink” and “Black Hole”. Aside from perhaps an overall lack of enticing melodic rhythm, though, no uninspiring decision stayed for too long. There was always something jolting and substantial about each song’s experimentation to find enjoyable, even if it was rather inconsistent as to what it was.
The first song contained a nice melodic highlight with good motivic usage and range amidst a rather erratic, weak sound with unimportant frilly synthetic additions. The second song then tightened up the screws timbrally with a fun pulsing groove, more independent guitar/synth, and a strong pedal tone, even though the melody didn’t have as important or compelling a motive. Then the third song unfolds into a rather abrasive, hollow power trip with guitars, but also has wonderfully neat harmonic repetitions. The album continues on this roller coaster of gives and takes, especially in its sound, going back and forth between pleasant foundations with gripping guitar energy to having overly-poignant and distracting noise without much purpose. It was all in the name of pushing the limits of an idea and having fun with it, which in itself was neat to experience.
I wish the lyrical connection throughout made more sense to me, as there was an obvious conceptual meaning to the storytelling but it did not come across beneath all of the other aural stimulus going on. While there are bound to be several moments that simply won’t grasp your attention, there’s enough cool thought and diversity in execution here for this to be a worthwhile listen for any rock fan of this generation. Julian Casablancas is a smart musician with lots of tricks up his sleeve, and while I felt that those tricks were sometimes blinding or muddled, there’s definitely still engagement to be found. I only thought two songs, “All Words Are Made Up” and “Pointlessness”, were truly rewarding from start to finish, but if you’re one who enjoys pushing your own envelope as to what you might enjoy, you’ll find something worthwhile here.