Review Summary: VNV Nation have shocked the world, they have released another future-pop album.
VNV Nation, the band who coined the term future-pop and whose vocal style has influenced countless other groups in the genre, have released what may be the biggest let down of late 2011.
After releasing eight albums that were, at the very least, well received it may seem like the above statement is a bit erroneous. After all this is the band responsible for releasing Matter+Form
with it's beloved killer track "Chrome", not to mention all the other almost countless fan favorites, dance-floor hits, and sound-scapes that have managed to capture the listeners ear and mind alike. Ronan Harris has often been heard during a packed dancefloor night, abusing to perfection his 3-note range. VNV Nation took the electronic front by storm, and now they've released their ninth album Automatic
Continuing the tradition of opening an album by pulling the listener into the sound-scape they have only begun to create Automatic
begins slowly, and as "On Air" clicks and statically hisses in direct contrast to the string movement weaving it's way through the speakers it a rather epic stage begins to set istelf. The minimal qualities are gorgeous in their own right, and provide a stark contrast to the blast to the past that is "Space & Time." It seems as if the duo have discovered a new synth sound; it feels as if god himself has opened his arms and thrown down thousand dollar bills from the sky. Ronan provides the lyrical and vocal mainstay that is
VNV to the core and all the while the new, classical electronic sounding synth line screams "I-AM-A-NEW-BAND!!!!!!" Even the lyrics (which have been in the same vein for years) are crawling up out of the pit of heaven; all of this taken in at once can bring tears to a devoted fans eyes.
This newly found sound and energy, this happiness, stays for all of 3 tracks. Just as "Resolution" creates a wall of hope and "Control" shatters expectations so does "Goodbye 21st Century" kill the new VNV in one blow. Disguised as a "real" track this 4:26 interlude is aptly named, for while beautifully done it signals the beginning of the end of the highlights on Automatic
. The proceeding 5 songs could fit in on almost any of the VNV albums we've come to love over the years, albeit in the sad, more melancholy sections. "Streamlined" brings the tempo back to life for awhile, only to have Ronan revert back to his signature delivery and it's ever present companion, slow tempo, on subsequent tracks. Another issue with the album is the rather strange "Nova" which could easily be mistaken as a call for the god of your choice to come back and take Ronan and co. away to a better place; open the skies and burn it all away/'cause I've been waiting all my life... forever waiting/shine your light on me
really is hard to put to any other imagery than a religious rapture-ques experience.
VNV Nation promised the music industry a new album, what they delivered were 4 interludes masquerading as full length tracks, 2 songs with a completely new sound and feel, and 4 songs taken from the depths of their discography (figuratively speaking). The tracks "Space & Time" and "Control" show what could have been, a voraciously sexy tease that leaves the audience shifting their legs and a bit bluer around the balls. VNV Nation have shocked the world, they have released another future-pop album.