Tomorrow the Voidz release their second record, Virtue, and it is a behemoth. At this point many of the albums best moments have already been released—hell, there are 5 songs out and one song that was played in Brazil—it seems like it should be at least half of the album. But it’s not! This is a long and arduous album—its 15 tracks.
The length of the album may seem like a non important factor but consider that it feels like those long and lingering shots in Twin Peaks: The Return. There is some sort of allowance made for artists once they reach a certain point of reverence where they’re no longer constrained by the same things that limit their successors and they’re free to basically do whatever the fuck they want.
The Voidz have always been that band. Sure, Tyranny was confusing for many. In essence it was six dudes who obviously like music way more than you fucking do following their impulses into an abstraction of a sunset. What I’m trying to say is that Tyranny is obviously a golden child to its creators. It’s a serious album—serious in its love of bizarre genres and instruments, of noise. It was also serious in its content—it surprisingly and unfortunately preceded the glass shattering that would happen in the next couple of years as we went from thinking of America as a country that had progressed enough to have it’s first black president to subsequently electing a shallow cheetoh encrusted husk of a man. Not to spend too much time on Tyranny but it’s not that the terrors of capitalism or the phoniness of our unworkable and non-democratic two party system are new—it’s just there was a facade that they were being improved upon and that the country was growing and learning—let’s call it hope— all of which was thrown under the bus pretty quickly with Trump. But in 2014, when Tyranny came out, this was an out of place pessimism that is now eerily on the nose for the hell we’ve found ourselves in.
On Virtue, The Voidz haven’t exactly abandoned this or become optimistic—it’s more so that they’ve succumbed to the mundanity of the terror (in the way that we all have). They’ve already been burdened by it and done their part in notifying the masses, and with this second record they’re relishing in the hedonism of the time left before the apocalypse.
The rollout of the first few tracks was nothing short of a stroke of genius. The Voidz first played the sunny yet nihilistic “Wink” (“I thought it was here, but it’s not my fault / You said it was there, but it’s not over there”) on a Brazilian TV show. Then they release their first official single “Leave It In My Dreams” and it’s probably the most accessible The Voidz have ever sounded. This is followed almost immediately by “QYURRYUS” which is the other side of that coin—it might be the most unaccessible and surreal the Voidz have ever gone. It’s got a menacing and surprisingly R&B feeling beat that propels the track both forwards and backwards as it reaches into the 80s to find the utmost realization of synth. It also takes autotune to levels that would make T-Pain blush.
The Voidz followed this by releasing “ALieNNatioN,” “Pointlessness” and “All Wordz Are Made Up.” The last of which is so eerily familiar it might honestly be the sonic definition of nostalgia. It also serves as a pretty clear declaration of intent for those still perplexed (James Corden) by The Voidz knack for misspellings.
But like I said 15 tracks makes for a long fucking album and I personally could have gone without “Think Before You Drink” or “Lazy Boy.” The former is a sad shimmering track that echoes in a horse troth and might have been beautiful in a different context, while the latter seems to lack the depth and interesting cross contamination of genre that punctuates the rest of the record. Naming it “Lazy Boy” was either unfortunately prophetic or self aware commentary.
But things pick up as The Voidz get into some of the heaviest and most abrasive stuff they’ve ever recorded. In “Pyramid of Bones” Julian Casablancas belts out “don’t you ever listen to the white man’s lies” which I didn’t know was the lyric I’ve been waiting my entire life to hear. “We’re Where We Were” continues to drive home the antifa overtones of the album. The track begins with rhythmic beats that give way to urgent vocals that bitingly say “New holocaust happening / What, are you blind? / We’re in Germany now, 1939.” It seems heavy handed and obvious but then I remember that 2018 is the year that we had to argue that noe-Nazism is fucked up. Much of the rest of the record, like “My Friend The Walls” and “Pink Ocean,”exists in a plane of peaceful nihilism and rumination over the asinine, a reflection of where we are both politically and culturally.
Tyranny was a beautiful record but it was heady and requires a specific mental state (I mean we’re talking about an 11 minute track called “Human Sadness” which includes lines from Rumi). Tyranny may have been for The Voidz but Virtue is for the people. It’s an enjoyable fucking pop record. It’s the bridge between the theoretical (what could have been) with the advent of the internet and what we actually ended up with (Ed Sheeran).
Virtue is out tomorrow March 30th on Cult Records via RCA.