Voxtrot - Voxtrot
Dan Round 14/09/2007
After two critically lauded EPs and a collection of impressive singles, the debut long player from this Texan quintet has been awaited for quite some time - with expectation rife amongst alternative scene-setters such as Pitchfork, Voxtrot really did become the band to watch out for last year. With all the acclaim and accolades, Voxtrot needed to impress on this, their self titled first full outing, to keep the critics mouth-watering.
After a gentle and atmospheric “Introduction”, track 2 “Kid Gloves” really breaks the album in. With powerful drumming, memorable backing vocals (think “Golden Skans”) and a typically “big” chorus it is an early contender for song of the album.
“Voxtrot” continues strongly. “Ghosts” is a sensitive piano piece in the tender Jeff Buckley mould, while “Stephen” uses a skatty, almost comedic piano rhythm as singer Ramesh Srivastava croons. However, after the marvellous “Firecracker” with its fuzzy bass, aggressive guitars, power chords and themes of lust and identity, the album starts to show its patches.
“Easy”, with its self-deprecating lyrics, and “Future #1”'s samey balladeering tests the patience in the middle part of the album, while the penultimate “Real Life Version” regurgitates the same formula.
Amongst these moments of minor frustration emerge some of the album's highlights though. “Every Day” is a lively, stringed lament complete with reflective lyrics and a soaring chorus, while the closing “Blood Red Blood” is quite possibly the Voxtrot signature song. Its' now familiar rumbling guitars and off-beat instrumentation shows an entirely different side to Voxtrot and possibly a hint into a future direction.
Voxtrot have a number of truly terrific songs but this album is marred by the overly clean production, noticeable following changes from the early recordings. This studio trickery diminishes the band's raw live energy, and frontman Srivastava's charisma is not as apparent. Over a whole album too, the band don't always seem as varied as some would have you believe - despite complex textures and intense layers of instruments, when played back-to-back certain songs seem to borrow from each other heavily.
If this lack of consistency lets this album down, the listener will still be in no doubt left feeling Voxtrot could be brilliant - it's just rather than making the classic debut album it was billed to be, it might take them a couple more albums worth of material before they fully realise their potential.
Definitely worth lending an ear to - this lot could be quite something, someday.
(Album released 10th September 2007)