This is my first introduction into Viva Stereo and to be honest I cant quite put my finger on this album.
From the opening ‘another night out’ which reminds me of Underworld’s ‘Dubnobasswithmyhead’ it’s certainly a very miserable affair which emanates a feeling of coldness throughout the 12 tracks on show here. They certainly know how to carve up the use of instruments on this album – at times they remind me of ‘Lowlife’ era New Order. They then go and get all acoustic on our asses with ‘Teenage Dreams’ whilst nicking Beirut’s accordion in the same process. This for me is probably the most outstanding track on the album. It’s simply hypnotic .
The majority of the album is an electronic picture-book with a smattering of male (Malcolm Middleton on ‘The seaward’ and Kenny Anderson on ‘Teenage Dreams’) and female (Diana de Cabarrus on ‘This is not an exit’) vocals. The Ultramarine influenced ‘Glass’ bounces along in a almost happy state whilst the grim vocals bring you back down to earth with a convincing thump.
What Viva Stereo are trying to achieve at times is beyond me. The lack of consistent songs on this is what makes it hard to see the good from the bad. I found myself listening to this and letting 5 tracks wash over me without me thinking ‘hang on here, I need to listen to that again – it was half decent!!’.
‘The Seaward’ is a strong track and bringing in MM really works well on what is a simple and stripped back number.
Then it descends into another run of the mill electronic number in ‘war paint’. Oooof – its like pulling teeth at times. Ouch, time for plan B Viva Stereo.