As a band that seems so down on life, Viet Cong’s debut album could easily be a dragging bore, but it’s not.
Even if ‘Perpetual Motion People’ runs a tad long, it’s very much a record to get lost in, with new complexities thrown up on every listen.
It’s indicative of how diverse and accomplished the album is that the four best tracks are of completely different genres and seem anything but forced.
For all its bewitching scholarly accomplishment, this is a wonderfully natural-feeling album, whose heart has even more to offer than its thrillingly skilful head.
Confident enough to bury their influences – David Byrne, Talking Heads, Modern Lovers et al. – a little deeper this time, Ought seem unencumbered by history and intent on carving out their own legacy; they look defiantly forward, not back.
For the first time in his career, Stevens has removed all the artifice and high-concept safety curtains from around his work and dealt, straight, with his own life in all its unflinching ugliness. That he’s managed to do it with such poise, hope, quiet power and affecting grace is a musical and emotionally cathartic triumph.
Don’t approach this record with a jaded mindset which rejects its unoriginal theme and unchallenging style – instead, stomp down those weary-minded objections and soak in the genuinely engaging strength of the songwriting and its skilful, less-is-more delivery.
Rather than nodding respectfully at the artists of the past, Holter now fixes her stare inward, shining a torch on what makes her tick as a human being. The result is a much more honest and more personal collection.
Perhaps it’s Father John Misty as an antidote to the American dream that makes ‘I Love You, Honeybear’ such a compelling and addictive listen. That underneath this beautiful sounding record things are pointed toward a seedier truth.