Brandon Gendvilas (vocals/keys), Robb Gilligan (guitar/synth/drums) and Wyatt Clinton (violin/synth) are the three members of the band VALKA. The band’s self-titled album VALKA takes some of the aspects that is popular in contemporary music and implements them into the ten songs. There is no doubt that melodramatic, grandiose music is currently a movement that has broken into the mainstream.
I often make the case that this emergence started with Funeral from Arcade Fire and mutated somewhere along the way. VALKA’s music is a hyper-real, roided out version of the cathartic style that we have been hearing on the radio for quite some time now. The emotions on the album surpass those which most of us experience on a daily basis unless of course you are constantly winning marathons, traveling through wormholes and literally can’t hold a conversation because of the constant epiphanies you are experiencing in your head.
I think most of the time that’s a good thing. Bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Sigur Rós have become popular because their music transcends our mundane experience. It in fact often fills us with those very emotions and in a way we can briefly live vicariously through the music. The music VALKA plays serves a similar purpose.
VALKA’s music is different from both aforementioned bands in that it contains more mainstream viability. The style of singing, the production as well as a couple of other things is aesthetically aligned with what we could call pop music because this style of music has become popular.
The album starts with a four-plus-minute intro. It’s the most epic intro I think I have ever heard and kind of sounds like Tubular Bells 2.0. “Intro” is cinematic, really cinematic. You can picture this type of music at the ending battle sequence for the next Avatar movie.
The appropriately named “Go” is like drinking twelve RedBulls with the extra ingredient of joy. “Go” contains a good amount of instrumentation including piano, synths, guitars and bass drum so loud that it could be used on a dance track. The song is like one long buildup and climax.
“I Left My House” is another huge sounding song that revolves around a steady kick drum, inventive percussion, orchestral strings and more. It reminded me of The Lumineers except a lot more intense and less folksy. As the album progresses a lot of the songs follow a similar vibe and feel. They are extremely exuberant with a fast BPM that strives to hit the highest peaks before climaxing and doing it all over again. Some songs like “Pomona” rely on melancholy but eventually end up veering towards grandiose sentiments. The only emotional break you get is “Longest Day” which is simply a piano.
VALKA certainly knows the type of music they want to play and have made a fluid album that showcases that. This album is so visceral it should come with a warning.
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