Review Summary: “Futurepop ain’t that bad.” – pizzamachine
Consisting of a small handful of underground bands, futurepop is an incredibly overlooked genre. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that knew the genre existed, or what it is, or what it sounds like. I was greatly interested, then, when I learned that bloc’s favorite genre was the illusive futurepop. With the knowledge that I often enjoy the same music that bloc does, I listened to the only futurepop album I knew of - VNV Nation’s, Of Faith, Power, and Glory.
VNV Nation’s soundscape seems familiar at first glance, but upon further study appears strangely foreign. Futurepop is a combination of trance, synthpop, and electronic body music (EBM), and works remarkably well. The combination may seem cliché considering the domination of synthpop artists in popular music, but once again, I cannot stress enough the uniqueness of this album. The band has taken overused ideas, and has forged them into something of their own design. Another way to describe the sound would be to imagine the band as aggrotech, but without the scary screams or cramped chaos.
While “techno” cannot adequately describe the band’s sound, it certainly seems similar. Thudding beats (like those in deep house music) provide the fury, while dreamy synthesizers provide pure bliss. In this album, the beats are remarkably deep, permeating every inch of the eardrums; they are so obnoxiously loud, that every time the album is spun, an ordinary room is transformed into a concert hall. This effect is further bolstered by the layered synthesizers (influenced by trance music), which provide thick, clean, gorgeous melodies. Combine these two elements (loud beats and synthesizers) and the result is an album that is both beautiful, and difficult to listen to at times (‘Art of Conflict’, for example, is an abrasive instrumental song that includes continually rising synthesizers – somewhat irritating).
Although the album had potential to be fantastic, interest slightly fades after listening to the first four tracks. The flurry of memorability starts and stops there, as if the band attempted to frontload the album and then forgot to make the rest of it enjoyable. True, ‘In Defiance’ is outstanding and worth recognition (easily the most cheerful sounding song, and sounds like a certain Christmas song I cannot name at the moment) but the songs immediately surrounding it are forgettable. However, when the band gets it right, they make ridiculously catchy songs. The lead singer’s deep voice somehow fits the band perfectly, especially during the many memorable choruses that inhabit the album. He exudes a dark presence when singing, often sounding tinged with sorrow. Bold without too much effort, he prefers the lower register. Also, the surprisingly profound lyrics of the album can make his vocal performance quite moving:
What will become of us if there's no one to watch over us
If we should face the certainty of our destruction
Forfeiting everything, pointless cries, futile dreams
There'll be no laughter, there'll be no tears
When tomorrow never comes.
It must be remembered though, that this album is a joy to listen to, and although the lyrics or songs may be depressing at points (‘Ghost’, and ‘From my Hands’), the brightness continually shines through. VNV Nation’s, Of Faith, Power, and Glory is a joyride from start to finish.