Voxtrot: Voxtrot

To all the readers of this site below the age of 30, let this article from the Onion be a cautionary tale for you: Lifelong Love Affair With Music Ends At Age 35.

Do not assume you will be adventurous with your music tastes forever. Ten to twenty years from now, the bands you love today will be recycled by so-called new bands, and you too will voice the refrain, "I liked it better the first time around."

I thought I would welcome an ’80s revival. I thought it would be nice to see bands I grew up with exert influence on bands coming up. I was wrong. I liked Franz Ferdinand better when they were called Gang of Four. The title of Duran Duran’s 2004 album was supposed to be Astronaut, not Hot Fuss.

So thank your dieties for Voxtrot — a band that sounds like the ’80s without having to rip off the decade wholesale.

The self-titled debut album by Voxtrot exhibits a strong influence of English bands from that era, but it doesn’t go for aural reconstruction — the strict beat, the running bass, the simple guitar lines and just a light touch of keyboards and strings.

Singer Ramesh Srivastava doesn’t try to sound like Morrissey, Robert Smith or Ian Curtis — he sounds like himself. The fact his voice doesn’t have an overpowering presence — in fact, he sounds like he’s straining at points — goes a long way in contributing to Voxtrot’s character.

The band does a great job of playing with texture. Drummer Matt Simon isn’t content just to whack the hi-hat and snare — his parts crest and ebb with the music. Guitarists Jared Van Fleet and Mitch Calvert might show signs of Johnny Marr but not to the point of distraction. At least bassist Jason Chronis doesn’t pretend to be Peter Hook.

The songwriting is catchy but not laden with hooks. Voxtrot’s draw lies more in the performances and arrangements. The band can lay it heavy on "Kid Gloves" and "Brothers in Conflict", but they can also pull back build some tension as on "Firecracker" or "Ghost".

That’s not to say their music isn’t hummable. "Steven" is the kind of bouncy tune bordering on earworm, while "Real Live Version" could easily be set against the ending credits of an arthouse film.

No, the best thing to appreciate about Voxtrot is their ability to wear their influences while still being themselves. "I had to lose my idols to find my voice," Srivastava sings at the conclusion of "Brothers in Conflict". If only other such bands could happen on that piece of career advice.

Comments

  • James says:

    That’s such a lame-ass hipester cliche – “I liked Franz Ferdinand better when they were called Gang of Four”. They don’t sound like Gang Of Four. Both bands have an occassional disco backbeat with electric guitars, but that’s about it. GOF were atonal and sang about student politics. FF sound more like late Led Zep if anything.

  • Densan says:

    Weird. I never heard of Voxtrot until I read a band interview in the recent Giant Robot magazine while riding the Atlanta Marta today. With two positive missives, I need to listen to some of their tracks.