By Keller Bradberry
Artist: The Voidz
Release Date: March 30, 2018
A year ago on March 30, the experimental-rock band, The Voidz released their sophomore album, Virtue under Cult records and RCA, which comes after their debut album Tyranny, released under Cult Records and their former title “Julian Casablancas + The Voidz.”
As explained by Julian Casablancas in an interview with Billboard, “The Voidz” as a band name is “about exploring the unexplored, we’re all on this wavelength of trying to push the boundaries.”
The band was formed in 2013 and consists of former Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas on lead vocals, Jeramy “Beardo” Gritter on guitar, Amir Yaghmai on guitar, Jacob Bercovici on bass and synth, Alex Carapetis on drums and Jeff Kite on the keyboard; making the band six members strong, all of which have former band experience. The most notable band experience of the group would be Julian’s in the Strokes, effectively spearheading a rock revival in the early 2000’s. But, it’s even more important to note that this band is not the Strokes, it’s the Voidz, unapologetically experimental and rebellious.
In an interview with Austin Underground, the band casually described the creative process for Virtue as playful and collaborative, with lots of baking.
Amir Yahgmai explained that “With the first record, we had just met each other so it was a learning process to see what each of us brought to the table musically. For the last record, the process flowed much faster… We bake cookies, we bake cakes, we bake whatever we want now.”
I love the Strokes, so it’s hard not to draw internal connections between some tracks on Virtue and some of Julian Casablancas’ previous discography. However, after listening through this album I can say that I enjoy and appreciate it for its experimental directions and interconnectivity in terms of lyrical motifs.
Lyrically, the album features a tone that comes out through jaded impressions that denounce big business and pop culture in tracks like “Pyramid of Bones” or “Permanent High School.” On the first, he says “One taste of jail and you see how we fail, the great death and horror unveiled” As a song dedicated to distrust in government, could be highlighting the way that governments use the prison system to enforce an ideological cause, like America’s war on drugs.
Certain tracks like “Leave It In My Dreams” or “Lazy Boy” that voice Casablancas’ dedication to obscurity and disenchantment with fame and recognition. On “Lazy Boy,” he says “I don’t wanna be a puppet that the ghost of my younger self still controls, jackets are the eyes of the soul.” It’s clear that in these lyrics, he’s tackling the topic of his former band directly.
Some standout tracks on the album for me include “Leave It In My Dreams” and “Pink Ocean.” “Leave It In My Dreams” features an elegant yet sleep-deprived indie-rock background while he sings “Don’t call me stupid.” This opening track locked me into listening to the rest through Julian’s ability to compose a rock song that sticks. “Pink Ocean” is one of my favorites because it scratched my itch for lo-fi, Casablancas’ delicate falsetto fits like a glove with the underwater synths and the epic ballad-style guitar solo, completing the nostalgic prog-rock vibe.
Throughout listening to Virtue, some tracks seem to be weighed down by the experimental factor, like “Black Hole,” which seems to drag on without much to take away from it. Another track, “We’re where we were” takes the stance of political commentary but fails to drive the message home. Despite this, and my large appreciation for the Strokes, I think Virtue by The Voidz is worth the listen based on its own indie-rock merits.