VR SEX | Hard Copy | Album Review

The Los Angeles audio/visual provocateurs VR SEX formed around the sonic genius of Andrew Clinco (also Drab Majesty).

The band explores the mystical and decadent space in between what's real and what's not, through the lens of technology. This blurred dimension becomes its own simulacrum and symbol of death/rebirth. Binary narratives and gender stereotypes become irrelevant and obsolete in this skilfully coded matrix .

While this body of work may initially sound nostalgic sonically speaking, its original and futuristic character makes for a memorable and distinctive listening experience.

"Hard Copy" draws on the influences of synth punk, death rock, and psychedelia. This album marks the highest point of their music journey for me. It's quite clear that VR SEX has now undergone its biggest transformation, as it's no longer a one man writing project, but a collaborative full lineup. This has definitely given the band the freedom to fully embrace their sonic identity and make their "noisiest" work to date. This album depicts Los Angeles feelings of entrapment, ephemeral incantation, and robotic living. It's the death-rock soundtrack of a dystopian present made of decadent cyberspace.

The title of the album seems very fitting for a work so packed with references. it almost begs the question "can music even be original nowadays?" It boldly explores the paradoxes of these grey areas through a powerful and rich mix of derivative genres and subcultures.

Their sound has morphed into a multiplicity of abrasive guitars, rawer synths, and rhythmic lines that are just as gritty. This sonic makeup has a different weight to the previous material and it leans more on the post-punk and garage rock side. The dooming bass and guitar lines have taken central stage.

Having said that, we can still find sprinkles of melodic flair. In tracks like "Inanimate Love", we encounter one of their catchiest choruses in proper post-punk fashion. This song could have easily belonged to Cabbage's "Nihilistic Glamour Shot" (2018) or Shame's "Songs Of Praise" (also 2018). I think English post-punk around 2018/2019 had a very specific sound which was exactly this.

If we could define Dictionary Talk's DNA, I would probably say it's a more contemporary version of a Dead Kennedys and Hanoi Rocks mix adorned with acid-garage riffs. One thing worth mentioning is that the vocal material is now shared between Clinco and Baron Montaigne, and the constant exchange between the two (plus the addition of everyone else in the choruses) has definitely made this album a more dynamic one.

Real Doll Time, one of the most accessible tracks, is followed by "Runaway Runaway", the richest one in textures. This is the highest point of the album for me. It's everything I look for in a post-punk composition. It's frenzy chaos bursting with piercing riffs and ketamine-like landscapes, all tightly enclosed in a dooming gothic frame ready to crush and crack. There is a psychedelic blurred dimension that is bewitching and liberating as the distorted riffs at the end almost mimic a mental breakdown. This reckless sense of abandonment and detachment is what fuels the album.

This work is exquisite schizophrenia in the form of a music album. Without a doubt one of the most art-driven products that came out this year.


Favourite track: Runaway Runaway



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