Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., May 18, 2007
Having staked out their indie-pop reputation since 2005's Raised by Wolves EP, Voxtrot finally bare their teeth on their first LP. Ramesh Srivastava's self-reflective, lyrically dense verses still remain at the fore of the songs, but Victor Van Vugt's production gives the rhythm section more force, exploding songs like "Firecracker" with a thick bass and drum backing. Likewise, "Easy" displaces the familiar guitar jangle of their earlier EPs with scratchy, stunted riffs. As much as the 11 new songs signal a bold maturity, the album also offers a logical development. "I have to lose my idols to find my voice," Srivastava shouts on "Brother in Conflict," and, while his songwriting is still striated with a twee angst, it's also darker and rife with an urgent mortality. Behind Van Fleet's dreamlike piano runs, "Ghost" lingers in a nostalgia of loss, while "Kid Gloves" lashes with a scathing political import. These more direct and brazen moments are also moderated by the subdued textures of the Tosca String Quartet, especially on the softer lilt of the second half of the album. Although Srivastava's striving falsetto on the piano ballad "Real Live Version" is less convincing, "Everyday" bounces affectionately, and "The Future Pt. 1" balances adolescent idealism with a tempered, almost resigned, experience: "Hey, this is the future, and we don't grow up like that. We grow teeth and we grow nails, and we scratch to the bottom of meaning." While Voxtrot have certainly sharpened their claws, they've also honed their instincts and asserted themselves at the front of the pack.