Monday, January 4, 2010

i know the world is overcrowded/ but i want to make babies with you

Via Audio released their debut, Say Something, back in 2007. And it made me silly with excitement. At the time I was living in Montana, and my friends were in a band (one of the members is still making some wonderful music) that opened for Via Audio while they passed through the frozen Northern tundra (a rare treat for Montana).

This Brooklyn group displayed from the start a surprising grasp of how to turn what could be forgettable indie pop into clever and determined, yet subtle, anthems. Jessica Martin's easy vocals are reminiscent of Feist as she slides from smokey harmonies to clear, high oohs above the fuzzed out guitars. I was very happy to know that this atmospherically cool band would be officially releasing a new album on March 9, 2010, Animalore. And that musical good fairy, Jim Eno, was going to be producing it. I was a little worried that Animalore would come out sounding like a Spoon release, which would be a shame since Via Audio had really hit a strong stride with their debut. So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Animalore and realized Eno hadn't stuck Spoon's fingerprints all over the tracks.

In fact, Animalore seems to deliberately avoid being pinned down. Unlike the seamless cohesion of Say Something, each track digs into its own separate patch of earth, discovering a new quality in Via Audio's effortlessly playful aesthetic. No matter the tune, however, Via Audio has come even further in their talent for positively oozing confidence with every sparse rhythmic guitar stroke, or delicate turn of phrase. Animalore doesn't strike a lot of balance at first listen, with themes ranging from science fiction to romance, but in that there is a greater sense that Via Audio is coming into their own. They put down an infectious groove from the beginning, and never drop it.

There's a funk running through this, and it makes me want to shake out all the stiffness in my heart and clap my hands above my head. The stark synth pairs with sweet as molasses slide guitar in some places (Wanted [probably the song that leaves me the most exposed by the end of the album]), some French foggy cabaret vocals elsewhere, and yes...even a Devo style electronic tongue lashing of the music industry with Digital. They do these sorts of transitions without falling apart even a little bit. This kind of sophisticated pop is hard to come by, and I'm glad it's coming to me again.

And as the first single Babies shows, they don't have to be all serious about how good they are all the time.

But wow...they are seriously good.

Babies- Via Audio

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