“It’s gonna get lonely for a while, till everyone else comes back in style…”
This line is how Viva Voce opened up their second album, Lovers, Lead the Way, and in turn, how they open this reissue of that album combined with their third release, The Heat Can Melt Your Brain. What’s perfect about that lyric is that it was absolutely fitting for the husband and wife duo of Anita and Kevin Robinson. Even though these two albums are four and three years old, respectively, it seems as if they were far ahead of the curve, and only now has the rest of the music world caught up to their genius. Though they’ve been around for nearly ten years, I had friends rush up to me at this year’s Sasquatch Festival to tell me that they just saw this `new’ band called Viva Voce and they were incredible! I suppose the good news is that more and more people are being exposed to Viva Voce thanks to their fourth album being on Barsuk (Death Cab catalog money goes a long way), and now, thanks to the Robinsons’ own label, they can delve into Viva Voce’s rich musical history.
There’s a lot of music in this country between the points of Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Portland, Oregon, and Viva Voce has seemingly collected cues from most of that music on their journey from the former to the latter. These two albums are crammed full of pop treasures for you to uncover. Lovers, Lead the Way! came about after their debut album’s label went under and the married duo had to regroup and come up with a plan B. That plan involved forming their own label and distributing with the help of Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty. If this is what a band can come up with all through their own devices, I don’t think I ever want to hear another major label production again. The music of Lovers is absolutely gorgeous, from the trip-hop meets banjo of “Fashionably Lonely” to the Dandy Warhols-esque clap-along of “Wrecking Ball” and nearly every genre in between. At times, you’ll be picking out various influences and sounds, but mostly it just blends into one unique package that Viva Voce is claiming as their own.
The same holds true for The Heat Can Melt Your Brain. It’s impossible to deny the infectiousness of “The Lucky Ones,” “High Highs” and “The Center of the Universe.”
It’s hard to believe that two people can put out this much sound, but the proof is in the bonus tracks that come with this double CD. Viva Voce play three songs in the Seattle studios of KEXP and maintain that full and layered sound. It’s also hard to believe, except for the fact that these two albums have been unavailable for a while, that Anita’s voice hasn’t been celebrated as one of the silkiest in the biz. Kevin is no slouch himself, whisper-singing his way masterfully through the songs that he vocally guides. Honestly, Viva Voce is probably the best male-female duo since Portishead or the Eurythmics. Don’t let more time pass by merely to find these albums have disappeared again.
The Breeders- Last Splash
The New Pornographers- Electric Version
The Sleepy Jackson- Personality (One Was a Spider, One Was a Bird)