VNV Nation’s ninth album,Transnational, has dropped, which has not gotten many long time fans excited. This two man group covers a range of genres from synthpop to industrial. However their most recent album has been weighing heavily on a formatted synthpop sound that has put many listeners to sleep.
The album begins with “Generator,” a track with a slow buildup using long choruses and captures an electronic body music feel once the percussion comes into play. This makes for a great introduction to the album as this track rolls right into next “Everything”. In this next track you start to hear where VNV Nation has moved further away from industrial and futurepop, and in its place you get a more upbeat and uplifting synthpop style.
There are three tracks, back to back, that overuse this change of style, which break this album. In “Lost Horizon” you get that uplifting synth melody which is fairly plain, save for a few sections where the percussion picks up the pace. The following track, “Teleconnect Pt. 1”, continues with this same plain style in a slow paced ballad which can easily cause listeners to tune out and lose awareness of the lyrics. “If I Was”, then follows up with this same synthpop pattern and lyric style, which starts to get too familiar and doesn’t give much to cause excitement.
There is a stark contrast to the feel of the previous mention tracks and “Retaliate” which has a darker, aggressive composition that is more indicative to VNV Nation backlog. The difference in lyric content is also apparent. While “Teleconnect Pt.1” and the part two on the album have very hopeful and warm lyrics, “Retaliate” plays more to the sensual nature of the futurepop and industrial genres. This had the strange effect of alienating one of the prominent styles (synthpop) with the other (futurepop); the two styles just do not seem work well being on the same album.
While most of the synthpop tracks do not cause much excitement, the tracks that still capture the older VNV Nation’s futurepop and industrial style really standout. “Aeroscope” with its dark and gritty sound really delivers on what you would expect from an electro-industrial group. “Primary” also has a strong futurepop style with a moderate dose of synthpop that I personally had no issue with. By far one of the tracks that truly feel like they are progressive but still futurepop is “Off Screen”. The synth selection of clear, high melodies and gritty bass lines compliment each other to give you a pop feel while still being melancholy. The lyric content is also true to the nature of futurepop: using an extended metaphor to romanticize on personal social struggles.
After listening to the album several times, you will find that there is a 50/50 split of tried and true futurepop and an attempt to evolve VNV’s music to a happier synthpop mood. While the enlightening synthpop has not caught on with many fans, it is definitely interesting to see this change unfold from previous albums. Nonetheless the tracks with a darker, industrial influence are fresh, evolving the futurepop style in my opinion, making them exciting to listen to.
MP3: VNV Nation “Aeroscope”