Not so simple, I'm afraid. It is the earnest and almost absurd manner in which VNV are putting it all on the line this time around which has turned the tide for me. I've heard Ronan's words many times before but they've never resonated as they do now. Perhaps this war-weary world has driven our duo to produce this work; it is a truly hopeful album. There is light, there is a reason to believe and couldn't we all use that?
After all these years, VNV Nation have become one of the most personal electronic acts out there and these tracks cut in ways I've not heard since "Praise the Fallen". "Testament" gets right down to it with infectious melodies, killer hooks and vehemently powerful production. The calm "Secluded Spaces" just lets it all out, a literal flood of spectacular synth washes and an impeccably mesmerizing vocal delivery. I cannot imagine why they have kept a track like this under wraps for so long. This is everything "Solitary" was meant to be and so much more. That it is topped by the majestic "Illusion" is incredible. This piece is both an almost open confessional to one's beloved and also a statement of just how inconceivable it is at times to carry on in life. There is great wisdom in this song, I feel; this is the sort of work only someone who has fully matured as an artist could possible convey convincingly. There is no irony nor clever cynicism, just a purity which rarely, if ever, shows its face.
Only dark times such as these could make a masterpiece such as this possible. For all your hurt and hatred, for all your loss: this album is tailor-made to ease it, to take the sting out of life for those of us who feel lost and utterly alone. I know I should try and describe what this album sounds like, but I cannot. It is such a totally compelling work that it must be heard in its entirety. This is no singles junket; everything works towards a powerful coda, an apex few can achieve.
If this is what VNV Nation were aiming for with "Matter + Form" I forgive them their fumbling step. If ever there were an outfit who gave meaning to such a meaningless world, it would be these fellows. I am truly floored.
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