CD Review of Rose City by Viva Voce
Viva Voce: Rose City
Recommended if you like
The Raveonettes,
My Bloody Valentine,
Yo La Tengo
Label
Barsuk Records
Viva Voce: Rose City

Reviewed by Josh Preston

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T
he long, strange road of rock history is lined with husband-and-wife duos. Barsuk Records, the label responsible for Viva Voce's recent release Rose City, is home to at least one other couple – Mates of State.

There's another, less well-known, couple that comes to mind when listening to Rose City: Richard & Linda Thompson. Through the years, stories have surfaced about a road manager who was out on tour with Richard and Linda. When asked about his experience, he stated he'd rather go on the road again with the Sex Pistols, because while they were out of their minds on various drugs, nearly lynched in every club the played in, and were generally a fucking disaster, Richard and Linda fought in ways that made all of the Sex Pistols' antics seem like a walk in the park. However, in the wake of their hatred for one another, they left some pretty incredible recordings and this tension was reflected – and was almost audible – in every note.

Now, while that’s not to say that husband and wife teams need to despise each other to make great records, in this instance, some tension (any tension) would certainly help. In radio interviews, Viva Voce has indicated that they recorded this album in their new home studio, and while they captured a wonderful-sounding release in the short time they spent recording (about a month), Rose City falls drastically short on substance, and some would argue that they've become a bit too comfortable in their new studio surroundings. Or maybe they simply spent too much time learning all their new gear and spent too little time on songcraft.

In addition to being a rather flat offering, Rose City lacks the ever-important element of experimentation that put Viva Voce on the map a few years back with their Barsuk Records debut, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out – but it's possible that this collection of songs will find a different life on the road, where they can be tweaked and be treated to the experimentation they deserve – and which is lacking on this release. It's probably a bit too early to write these guys off, and it's possible that greatness will be once again delivered on future albums, but Rose City will presumably rank low on the list of records that might one day allow them to stand apart from the pack in the halls of husband and wife bands.

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