PVT - Church with No Magic

by Alexandra Pett Rating:8.5 Release Date:2010-08-09

Australia might not be the first country to spring to mind as a hotbed of musical talent - INXS, Olivia Newton John, Rolph Harris the er…Wiggles have seen to that - but in the last few years a real volume of quality sounds have been filtering up from down under. Riding the crest of the wave of Cut Copy, The Presets, Hilltop Hoods and Empire of the Sun is a second album by another very interesting prospect: PVT.

Formerly 'Pivot' up until legal wranglings with an American band of the same name forced the switch, PVT are a family-linked three piece who made history as the first Aussies to sign to Warp. Out this week, 'Church With No Magic' is the follow up to 2008's understated slice of intelligent electronica - 'O Soundtrack My Heart' - and is likely to be the album that catapults the band into the wider consciousness. If you like the choral-esque vocals of Grizzly Bear, the electronic wizardry if Aphex Twin and the ferocious rhythms of Yeasayer then you should make room in your life for PVT.

The album kicks off with 'Community,' composed of gradually building bubbled soundwaves and monastic vocals, orthodoxically powerful but saved from stepping into Enigma's sweaty sandal chanting territory by the next track 'Light Up Bright Fires.' LIBF is a crazy mash up of hectic sounds and the kind of drumming Animal would be proud of. The track is a veritable trifle of sound with layers of electronic stabs laid over demanding, insistent drums, ethereal female backing, finished with the male rock vocal.

'Church With No Magic' would be at home on Yeasayer's Odd Blood. The huge, grizzly bass and combination of electronic and organic sound gives the track a real punch that is enhanced when the sound is picked up and flung across the room by the soaring synths and random electronic noises and vocal noises. 'Crimson Swan' hangs on deep, almost religious chanting and is intriguingly peppered with background noises evocative of a haunted house. The track is driven by reversed beats before a slash of electric guitar introduces a climax of dizzyingly distorted electronic sound.

'Window's genius is the increasingly popular tactic of using a sampled vocal used as a beat. It's a hectic cacophony of a track that drives from angry determination to absolute certainty: 'I won't slip I won't fall, I won't fall.' A little reminiscent of Cheryl Cole's Parachute? She wishes.
'The Quick Mile' travels on the warm force of a bass sound cut through with more dizzying synth, UNKLE Psyence Fiction-era drums and a signature PVT ending that could compete with Muse at Wembley. 'Waves & Radiation' is possibly too ambient for its own good but 'Circle of Friends' really showcases how strong vocals can send a track to the next level. Finally, the album finishes with the gloriously electronic 'Timeless' and 'Only The Wind Can Hear You' that pitches at the sound and serious vocal range of the glorious Grizzly Bear.

The band's first album was vocal free and I can only say how glad I am that the vocals arrived on this record. They might make it slightly more accessible - something which is no doubt anathema to purists and the smuggest of critics - but with the addition of the vocals, instead of another subtly brilliant piece of electronica destined to go unnoticed by anyone whose playlist is informed solely by daytime Radio 1 this album could make a difference. Indeed, 'Church With No Magic' might make it onto the radar of JLS fans who only need to be shown what real music sounds like to step off the commercial musical offal pathway and on to something real. And this album is an example of what real music sounds like: gutsy, courageous, imperfect and pleasingly anti autotune.

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