Beginning to explore the addition of vocals, rather awkwardly, on 2010’s Church With No Magic, PVT have now embraced and mastered this aspect of their sound on their most recent release; Richard Pike’s vocals are now a welcome aspect of the songs, rather than an unpleasant distraction. Further backing away from the Warp-influenced electronic experimentation that the band rose to prominence with, and instead embracing a more traditional pop structure, Homosapien finds PVT playing with a modern take on synth-pop. Well, fairly modern – Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight would slip curiously well onto the album.
Bookended by spacey, ambient electro tracks – Shiver provides a particularly good introduction – the majority of the album presents a cold take on pop, instruments synthetic and distant in a way that creates an interesting albeit undemanding listening experience. The title track is an album highlight, Pike’s vocals sliced, distorted and layered, used as rhythm, before rising out clean. The guitar is weak, unnecessarily simple against the electronic tricks, but the track still holds a great degree of interest and represents the cleanest merging on Homosapien of PVT’s older and current sounds. Casual Success, meanwhile, is the best example of their new focus. With ringing percussion, punchy distorted bass and vocal harmonies, it’s a clear break away but includes enough musical deconstruction that it remains a unique interpretation.
Homosapien is not an amazing album – the songs lack the immediacy and energy that has characterised PVT’s best work – but in its place they’ve achieved a consistency that was previously missing, leading to a solid release that shows the band growing comfortable with a new range of compositions and Pike settling into his role of frontman.
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