The Voidz are an alternative rock band from New York led by Strokes veteran, Julian Casablancas. Virtue is the second album released by the Voidz and serves as a follow up to their 2014 album, Tyranny.
Immediately noticeable from Virtue, is the impression that this is meant to be more intended for mainstream media. The record starts off with a catchy, pop-centered song that is reminiscent of the Strokes in their prime. Despite these more accessible tunes, experimental rock is still at the center focus of this project. At times, guitars will wail and screech, synths will create an eerie mood, a hip-hop beat will play, or Casablancas will deliver a more sinister vocal delivery. I began to wonder whether or not this approach would begin to wear thin during the 58-minute musical odyssey. It doesn’t.
The songs are entirely unpredictable, but never lose focus on their structure. This is indebted to the fact that every instrument plays a purpose. Everything is precisely conducted and well orchestrated to accurately reflect the themes on this record. It’s on this project that Casablancas delivers his most confident performance in well over a decade. His vocal gymnastics range from a low baritone to a falsetto with little to no warning on a number of tracks. On paper, this seems rather irritating, but in execution, the risks truly pay off.
We are given a more politically aggravated Julian Casablancas. “Pyramid of Bones” criticizes those who take advantage of people to serve a selfish purpose.
“Think Before You Drink,” is a somber acoustic number in which Casablancas reflects on his youth and how he had been sheltered from corruption and corporate greed. “We’re Where We Were” is a frustrated criticism that despite such technological advancements we’ve achieved within the past few decades, we’re still socially cruel and evil to those with a different background. The lyrics are heavy, but ultimately help this record soar. Despite such crafty and clever lyrics, at times it can be difficult just to make out what is being sung. I found myself straining my ears to catch what was being said.
The album is more generic while still implementing interesting and risky experimentation. Equally impressive is the fact that despite such a long voyage from cover to cover, I was never truly bored listening to this album. Instrumentation is airtight while the vocals are different enough to keep me more than engaged, even if at times it’s hard to hear what is being sung.
By Caleb Ortiz