The sophomore release from San Francisco alt-rock band ViV, Flawed, is one of the best things to happen to my CD player in quite some time. While the major labels keep merging and focusing on a select few artists, the streets have become flooded with more great bands than ever, and ViV is one of them. While there is a Pete-Yorn-meets-Foo-Fighters current running through their music, there is also a Brit-pop melodic sensibility and feel-good factor that can’t be measured on star ratings alone.
“Friends” starts out with crunching guitars and lush harmonies, and is a perfectly crafted pop tune. Lead singer Matt Ostrander has one of those voices that’s made for modern rock radio, and that is most evident on “Did I,” my pick for best song here. The title track has an Americana flavor, courtesy of some cool slide guitar and “Suzanne’s One Good Eye” sounds like Pete Yorn fronting Neil Young’s band. “Bob Dylan Said So” is a lyrically intriguing pop diddy, and “Shine” has some cool production value with guitars that seem to come from everywhere amid slick drum loops and sweet vocal harmonies. “Suffer” is one of those songs that moves along slowly, but draws you in like a piece of meat luring a dog, and is equally haunting and beautiful. “Green” is a moody, timeless piece with the added flavor of an electric violin.
By the time you reach the last track, “Out of the Rain,” it’s evident that
Flawed has one thing that most records lack – you can actually listen to the whole thing. I found myself going back to the beginning time and again and never tiring of it. There are artists like John Mayer and Norah Jones that have come along in the last few years and made the jump from average Joe to pop icon. ViV is a band that, armed with a great new record, has that kind of potential. Hopefully, they’ll make me say I told you so.