There is "a noted, and quite brilliant, inconsistency, to The Voidz’ creations"RCA Records

The Voidz, the latest venture headed by former Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas, had a number of problems to be addressed with their ‘debut’ release. Foremost was the need to build upon Tyranny, the album released in 2014 under the more egotistical name ‘Julian Casablancas + The Voidz’. This rather chaotic album, much like its title, faltered through of a lack of cohesion, and a sense that Casablancas + The Voidz had yet to find the right combination of their styles. This issue has, in Virtue, been largely resolved, and what follows is a more listenable album which cleverly interweaves the band’s penchant for beat-driven tracks and synthesisers with Casablancas’ compelling vocals.

Virtue is filled with songs that find a balance between the melodic and the discordant, and is alluring in its lack of predictability. Casablancas, in an interview with Vulture, claimed that The Voidz wanted to create an album which combined their tastes in a “musically interesting way”. Such a desire could not have been more aptly displayed in Virtue, with heavy, sinister, tracks such as ‘QYURRYUS’ and ‘Black Hole’ at stark contrast to the melancholy and contemplation in ‘Think Before You Drink’ and ‘Pointlessness’. If, indeed, such contrast could be seen to create another chaotic album, it must be said that Virtue is highly intriguing in its compilation of styles, refreshing at a time when many albums appear to consist of tracks built around a similar template.

The album’s pre-released tracks undoubtedly form its main highlights, with the crunching beat of ‘All Wordz Are Made Up’, and the sinister electronic backing to the politically charged ‘ALieNNatioN’, particular stand-outs. The album’s opening track, ‘Leave It In My Dreams’, also stands tall on account of its simplicity and the fact that, despite Casablancas’ history, it is the only track that could be attributed to any great influence from The Strokes’ music. Indeed, where the former Strokes guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr., could be accused of too closely mimicking their music in his recent solo album, Casablancas is exempted from such criticism in a varied and interesting listen.

Casablancas’ voice is, at times, lost in the psychedelic backing of the Voidz and its potential perhaps unfulfilled in a number of songs which rely heavily on auto-tune and high-pitched sinister vocals. During tracks such as ‘Pink Ocean’ and ‘QYURRYUS’, we perhaps long for a greater honesty and grounded nature to Casablancas’ voice, one which is displayed on the retrospective ‘Permanent High School’.

“There is a sense in Virtue that some realisation of this problem has occurred, and there is a greater diversity than was evident in its rather forgotten predecessor, Tyranny”

It is difficult, as this example shows, to formulate a general criticism of the music in Virtue, on account of the variations The Voidz exhibit in their styles and temperament. Perhaps the album’s biggest drawback is the relentless dystopian imagery Casablancas resorts to in an effort to create politically charged music. While a subtlety to his actual political message is commendable – no overt mention of any current political figures or situations – in that it forces a certain thoughtfulness from the listener, the rather constant mirroring of discordant music through sinister and baleful lyricism can become rather predictable. This said, there is a sense in Virtue that some realisation of this problem has occurred, and there is a greater diversity than was evident in its rather forgotten predecessor, Tyranny.


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There is, therefore, a noted, and quite brilliant, inconsistency to The Voidz’ creations. Though this prevents a feeling of complete positivity regarding the album as a whole, Virtue can be seen as Casablancas’ most successful reincarnation following his work with The Strokes. The Voidz have created more listenable and cohesive music than was evident in Tyranny, but have not sacrificed creativity and meaningful lyrics in doing so, and so the album is filled with tracks that interweave psychedelic episodes with melodic motifs. Virtue is an album which intrigues through complexity, and entertains through stark, yet highly compelling, unpredictability.

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