Review : Viva Voce - The Future Will Destroy You
PopmattersEighth release from husband-wife duo is a scorcher
Two-person rock bands are nothing new anymore, not after the success of the White Stripes, the Black Keys, Black Diamond Heavies and the Raveonettes, not to mention upstart bands like Black Pistol Fire and the Stereophidelics. (Hmm, a lot of “black” in those names…) In the space of ten years, more or less, the tempate of drums + guitar/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist has gone from an oddball niche idea to mainstream rock ‘n’ roll success story. And why not? At their best, these bands rock as much as the traditional four-piece or five-piece ensemble.
What does still catch me off guard is how many such outfits are out there, and have been for a while now. Take Viva Voce, whose 1998 debut Hooray For Now was followed by a string of albums exploring the limits of the two-piece setup, and whose ridiculously catchy song “Wrecking Ball” was heard on an episode of One Tree Hill a couple of years ago. Formed by the husband-wife team of Kevin Robinson (drums and vocals) and Anita Robinson (guitars and vocals), Viva Voce has been a quiet presence lurking in the pop-rock mainstream. Their newest full-length, The Future Will Destroy You, is their eighth album, and it’s likely to raise their profile even further. Simply put, it’s a scorcher....full text
PastemagazineThe husband and wife duo Viva Voce are based in Portland, have released records with respected labels like Barsuk and Asthmatic Kitty and toured with Jimmy Eat World and The Shins. They favor heavily reverbed, Mazzy Star-like melodies and rigidly metronomic beats that often sound like a drum machine even when there’s a person on the skins. But if you look beneath their heavy alt-rock signifiers, Kevin and Anita Robinson often sound like an old-fashion country music duo with the comfortable, give-and-take interplay of a John and June or Kenny and Dolly. On her own, Anita tends to draws out her vocal lines to blend in with the languid guitar melodies as another layer of sound, but when singing in tandem with Kevin, the pair exude a forceful presence.
Viva Voce sneak all kinds of genre-jumping fun into their delay-ridden tracks. Opener “Plastic Radio” features strutting classic-rock riffs that have been processed to sound like a faded Polaroid, there’s some crunchy country twang beneath all the tremolo in “Analog Woodland Song,” and the purposefully stiff drum tracks nod to early hip-hop and Kraftwerk. During the middle section of The Future Will Destroy You, the pair’s sixth album, the layers of woozy keyboards and guitars treated to sound like woozy keyboards suggest that Viva Voce sometimes get caught up with mad scientist studio experimenting at the expense of memorable songs. But whenever Future starts to glide along too airily, the Robinsons can be trusted to use their on-off harmonies to give their best songs a spark that helps them rise above as merely sounding pretty....full text
FaronheitDespite their new record “The Future Will Destroy You” being their sixth long player, somehow it always feels necessary to introduce or re-introduce Viva Voce every time they put out something new. Calling them forgettable is probably not the right thing to say, especially since they’re written a number of great and memorable songs, but they never seem to get enough press or notice for them. Consider them a bit of a lost treasure then, one of those secrets that if you know about them, your life feels just a little bit richer as a result. In fact, you’ve likely heard Viva Voce before whether you know it or not. Their songs have appeared in a number of popular TV shows from “Friday Night Lights” to “One Tree Hill”, and like many of those snippets, were enough to make you sit up and ask somebody who the band was before falling back into the plot and not following up properly on it. So as a primer, or a reminder for those that may have forgotten, here’s a snapshot of Viva Voce. The core of the band is made up of Portland husband and wife duo Kevin and Anita Robinson. They were the two there from the very beginning back in 1998, and it’s only been in the last couple years that they’ve added two new members to help flesh out their songs a bit more both in the studio and while performing. But Viva Voce have also done their fair share of label hopping across their catalogue, going from Asthmatic Kitty to Minty Fresh to Barsuk and now settling in with Vanguard for their newest record. They’ve toured with everyone from The Shins to Jimmy Eat World, and even established an alt-country side project called Blue Giant with some of their Portland friends that included Decemberists guitarist Chris Funk (who has since left the group). To call them seasoned musicians at this point is more than accurate, and while it’s not always the case, sometimes the records get better with age....full text
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