PVT’s new album New Spirit is a gothic, brooding piece of progressive electronica and post rock. Evidently, PVT is a band that don’t like to be categorised, and their catalogue of albums are all vastly different in sound and approach.
New spirit is another jump in a different direction, but it is more radical and more challenging than any of their previous albums. It is at once restrained, allowing atmosphere and space. There’s room for the lyrics, chords and sounds to resonate, and it is also densely populated with electronic sounds and echoes whilst managing to also push the boundaries of melody and writing.
It must be hard for an artist to turn their back on a formula which they knows works and that people like, and start anew, but PVT make this seem easy. They push their creative boundaries and create music that is experimental and avant-garde but also accessible. This way of thinking about music is not for everyone and that’s okay, but it’s imperative that someone does it, and PVT does it oh so well.
The album opens with Spirit of The Plane, which is a delicately driving atmospheric number, using sparse synth and percussion to nicely the build the song. The sounds become more dense and rapid as it grows until it abruptly ends and goes back to its airy beginnings for a while. It is this kind of diversity and unpredictability which nicely showcases the thesis of the album.
A Feeling You Can Find is a more orthodox song progression, with Richard Pike’s vocal varying from lighter through the versus to darker and mournful through the chorus. Pike chants, “I may not be a young man anymore, but I know the score, I know when to give less, I know when to give more,” which is certainly true when it comes to the song and the rest of the album. It has a sense of maturity about it, a sense of self and it knows how much to give and when to give it.
Salt City is an offbeat jolting number which changes frequently. It is the most conceptual and mechanical song on the album. It feels like this is where the band really hits its experimental strides. Though, like the rest of the songs, it remains dark, human and haunting – the melodic war horn towards the end of the track is a beautiful touch.
Interlude and Another Life return to the haunting gothic dance feels of the beginning of the album. The songs all sound like they were made for a David Lynch film, feeling otherworldly, like they have been made underground, or in a dream, being completely foreign but somehow so innately recognisable.
Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend is the stand out track on the album. Pike’s voice is stirring and macabre, accompanied with the dramatically building and rousing sounds full of electronic synths, sci-fi effects, keyboard and scant drumming, make it an ethereal and hypnotic masterpiece – with the ability to put you into a trance of fixation. The song also captures the mournful, dark, electronically tweaked vocals which resonate well against the electronic sea of sound throughout the album.
Kangaroo is a return to their disco, techno sounds with airy vocals that increasingly become more emotional and desperate as the song progresses. It’s hard to really work out what they referring to in the lyrics, especially when they say that the “Kangaroo is an emotional spirit” and “animal emotion of life. Who would have thought I would be so cursed?”- Perhaps it’s just a simple nod towards home?
Murder Mall is a slower, more lyrics-centric song which discusses gun violence through literal storytelling. This is the only time on the album where its political leanings are completely obvious. The song also nicely shows off Pike’s vocal range as it’s one of the only ones that is not hammered by electronic sound showers.
New Spirit, the song, is hard not to relate to the current Australian political climate, which the album is said to be about, with the lyrics berating: “New thief: old habits. New promises: Same results. New thinking: Dumb decisions”. The song is a return to their dance rock sphere, reminiscent of Homosapien. The stirring chant of words is fierce and moving.
The album has extreme depth and variety, even in Pike’s voice and the way they are worked, or not worked – as well as the lyrical stylings for each song; some telling a literal story, others being streams of consciousness and others being poetically timed and cadenced. This with the clear as day production quality and impeccable tones and timing make it an amazing piece of art.
In a way it encapsulates all their sounds from previous works, encompassing pop, post rock, dance, punk all the whilst layered with electronic atmospheric soundscapes and like their other albums, above all it is experimental, somehow managing to be dense, frantic, therapeutic and light. The album is so full of life and expression that the extent of its genius is only realised the more you listen – and once you do, once you let it in – other songs and bands may seem basic and boring.