May 24, 2007

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VNV Nation, Judgement
Metropolis Records, 2007

It’s a true-blue bummer to witness futurepop kings VNV Nation’s resigned annoyance with mankind, into whom they’ve tried to instill positive motivation for the past 12 years, but times are tough, especially if the acronym half of your trademark is something troop-hating like Victory Not Vengeance. Where 2005’s Matter+Form saw Ronan Harris and Mark Johnson hammering at the doors of pop radio, Judgement (sic) is of an even darker shade than Empires, though unlike the last few albums Harris’ smoky, welcoming baritone is in nearly every song this time, not playing Where’s Waldo against a landscape of all-instrumentals. Harris has a knack for bringing on the goosebumps, accomplished this time in “Testament” by throwing a few laser-guided anti-war observations around before settling on the line “It’s just you and me now against the world” whilst a hopeful, heart-tugging synth arpeggio works itself into a tizzy. They still prefer Reaktor software over ProTools, which adds to their rattled-sheet-metal uniqueness, but there’s absolutely no ramp-up time required for listeners who appreciate, you know, great songs and stuff. A-Eric W. Saeger