While energetic, “fun” bands like Group Love, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend and the ilk usurp the mainstream airwaves filling Spotify playlists to the point of grotesque, melodrama, paranoia, angst and depression linger in the shadows. Like their predecessors of the ‘80s, The Soft Moon, Former Ghosts, Indian Jewelry, and now Red Vienna are providing the antithesis to our culture’s darlings.
Red Vienna’s newest batch of songs The Book of Hour, harkens back to the Cure, The Smiths and Joy Division, but with a stronger guitar focus. Comprised of Robbie Zgaljic and Jahmeel Russell, Red Vienna delivers music that is more than just dark and weighty. The presentation is self-assured; Zgaljic and Russell know precisely where they want to go into the austere.
Though the duo cites Killing Joke and Swervedriver as chief influences, the music is far from shoegaze or metal. It’s easier to say tracks “Forty Eight Graves,” “Lights Out” and “One More Hand” are primed for a mainstream cross-over with their affectionate, catchy choruses and driving rhythms.
The doom pop “Lights Out” might be the clear hit here. It’s dynamic— mixing verses— but shows undeniable staying power with the haunting chorus: “Lock yourself in a mirror.” Don’t attribute mainstream potential to lesser artistry, though. Every song plays the part of sophisticated art rock, inventive and beautiful, dark and spiritual—a fitting addition to the Donnie Darko soundtrack.
With rigid guitars, buzzing bass lines and haunting lyricism The Book of Hours cuts with all the dirge and ascetic it can muster, but one wonders if it’s ever too overbearing. It’s a seasonal listen, for sure. Perfect for the dark days of winter or the lonely, introspective hours between night and morning. It’s these periods of time where The Book of Hour can transcend mere accessibility. It will latch itself onto you and never let go.
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