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Viva Voce "The Future Will Destroy You"

Brian Ahnmark
Married couples aren’t supposed to be able to agree on a restaurant for date night, let alone work together.

Let alone write, perform, record, produce and mix a record together.

So maybe Kevin and Anita Robinson aren’t your typical couple. The husband and wife duo, known in musical circles as Viva Voce, has worked at a breakneck pace since joining forces in 1998. After four records (culminating in 2009’s superb Rose City) and an eternally grueling tour cycle, the Robinsons decided to branch out. They doubled the band’s lineup for a supporting tour, then recorded an Americana-tinged full-band project under the moniker Blue Giant.

The Future Will Destroy You sees the band return to its bare-bones original lineup. It’s a sexy groove of a record, smoldering with sinister intensity. From a performance perspective, Anita emerges at the fore. After four LPs sharing lead vocals with Kevin, Anita largely owns the mic on The Future Will Destroy You. But the unique composition of these songs eschews lyrics and singing in favor of Viva Voce’s true voice: Anita’s guitars.

A humble suggestion: Listen to this record on headphones. Anita’s intertwined hooks descend upon the ear like mythical beasts of the forest, armed with the teeth to bite, but instead planting a gentle kiss on the cheek before vanishing. Riffs act as choruses in “Plastic Radio,” “Diamond Mine” and “We Don’t Care,” countermelodies tiptoeing throughout. An aggressive propeller engine effect drives the satisfying “Analog Woodland Song,” while “Black Mood Ring” dissolves from an aggressive Western vibe into a spaced-out 6/8 shuffle – and right back again, Kevin hammering on his toms in one of his few flashy moments.

The title track also lurks on his menacing, kick-heavy beats, thick with obsessive pulse (hold your breath for the debilitating descending progression mid-song). And Anita’s guitars – so clean and calm, stretching wings and flexing muscle simultaneously. A talented drummer, Kevin largely stays out of the way to clear the sonic path for Anita, occasionally dabbling in drum loops and samples to enhance the overall cadence.

From a production standpoint, Kevin (the couple’s self-professed twirler o’ knobs) has never been better. The band produced and mixed the album in their Amore!Phonics home studio, resulting in an end product with a robust weight to it – like a meal cooked by grandma. It’s a dark record, even-keeled and sneaky if you’re not paying attention. “No Ship Coming In” is a two-chord epitaph at heart, until Anita’s six-string bursts from the underwater murk with triumphant fury. The patient unfurling of guitar in “Cool Morning Light” gives way to eerie keyboard; and “The Wondering Soul” is a heavyweight bout of a closer, body-blow bass versus uppercut-cross guitar combinations until the sudden death, knockout climax.

So from two-piece to four-piece to side project to two-piece again, it frankly doesn’t matter how many cooks are in the kitchen. So long as Kevin and Anita are stirring the pot, the meal is always delicious.

89/100