Rose City

Viva Voce

Cristy Scoggins

Portland-based Viva Voce are stylish, sexy dream rockers, featuring female–male vocals not unlike the Raveonettes—or even Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra—and hazy, shimmery sound production. Once a duo consisting of Kevin Robinson and Anita Robinson, Viva Voce have expanded to a quartet with the addition of Evan Railton and Corrina Repp, allowing for a fuller, more cohesive sound. The band’s fifth full-length effort, Rose City, packs a concise, sugary punch, at under 38 minutes with 10 songs.

Kicking off with the sobering sounds of “Devotion,” Rose City experiments with various musical styles, while maintaining the band’s own echo-laden trademark sound. “Die a Little,” a sharp new wave rocker, features Anita Robinson’s breathy movie-star vocals on top of Kevin Robinson’s deep troubadour monotone. The album’s standouts include the jaunty heaviness of “Tornado Alley” and the steady fuzz bass of the title track. The band pulls from a shiny array of influences, from the retro Wall of Sound echoes of “Midnight Sun,” to the glossy 1980s pop of “Good As Gold,” to the Paisley Underground trance of “Flora.”

Rose City is a solid record, inoffensive and competent. At times, the vocals seem a bit too quiet in the mix (as in “Flora”). The album lacks dynamics; despite the effort at stylistic diversity, there is a bland evenness all the way through. But it’s pleasant and calm, with catchy moments here, sparkly moments there.


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