- by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2016-11-18 Label: Fire Records
Virginia Wing are back with their second album and they’ve had a line-up shuffle, in and outs have now stripped them back to a two piece. The new album ‘Forward Constant Motion’ follows on from their highly regarded 2014 album ‘Measures of Joy’.
So besides the line-up changes what has really changed for Virginia Wing in terms of sound? Not much really. The dark acerbic lines of electronic remain, much in the vein of the sadly missed Broadcast. From opener ‘Lily of youth’ the sense of lo fi gravity is prevalent and the tardy drone and metallic drum repetition mix meet head on until an injection of fruity synth gatecrashes the party.
The tinny sound and somewhat reluctance to make their electronic sound base heavy is a bold statement which separates them from their peers and creates a shimmering glow but ensuring that the songs remain fully formed at all times. I’m not saying that the bass lines are totally redundant but when you hear the beautiful ‘ESP Offline’ you realise that it’s not key to what Virginia Wing do or need to do to help them achieve.
Tracks like the trippy laid back ‘Grapefruit’ might seem like they have the dream pop accolades of Beach House but once they lavish a pile of mellifluous synths patterns all over it it’s not long before you realise their uniqueness and a smile as broad as a Cheshire cat decorates your face. The bounce and boing of ‘Miserable World’ is an oxymoron to its title. The repetition isn’t difficult to clock and whilst it’s less than 180 seconds long it still stands strong as a cornerstone of the album’s effervescent joy.
The stoic and haunting ‘Sonia & Claudette’ represents another area of Virginia Wing. Touching on the morose and morbid but with a subsequently atonal and creepy vocal it’s the opposite to ‘Miserable World’ and when the droning keyboard switches off we get a robot voice and a high pitched whistle that seem to hate the world around us.
Metronomic beats and crisp lines return to the form on the krautrock influenced ‘Local Loop’. The tempo goes up a level but is broken up with sedate flashes of one note key drags and chopped up garbled vocal, its busted surroundings and inability to conform to a standard musical arrangement make it even more beguiling.
The creativity flows again on the battering ram that is ‘Hammer A Nail’, effectively delivering its own title with a hubris of flowing beats, drive and off kilter electronic but the space that stands between the layers and the no hurry up offence makes the track breathe with an air of afternoon delight.
Virginia Wing have made a superb album of avant garde electronica. ‘Forward Constant Motion’ has an effortless ability to be both embryonic and morph into golden pockets of glorious decadence and proof that the difficult second album has no part to play to the newly rejuvenated two piece.