Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Record label: Felte
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The Australian trio - Dave Miller with brothers Richard and Laurence Pike - have regrouped after a four-year gap since the release of their last album, Homosapien. The tone of discourse has soured in the antipodes as much as it has up here - for a likeminded work, see Brisbane composer Lawrence English's newly released Cruel Optimism -- and New Spirit isn't content to hold its nose and drink it down. "I may not be a young man anymore / But I know the score / I know when to give less / And I know when to give more", Pike states on "A Feeling You Can Find", aware of the importance of knowing when and how to allocate your attention in a world that wants to sap it from all directions.
From their name to the wildly different sounds they've explored over their nearly two-decade career, PVT is all about surprising shifts. They delivered one of their most radical changes with 2013's Homosapien, a surprisingly poppy set of songs that put Richard Pike's voice front and center and drew comparisons to everyone from Gang of Four to INXS. On New Spirit, PVT swings away from that pop peak -- but not entirely.
Aussie trio PVT count Warp Records as a former home. Accordingly, their music resonates with that Warp-ish air of arty experimentation, but remains easily digestible. Their post-rock roots are still detectable on 'New Spirit', but there's a dark-hearted dance aesthetic filtering through it. It's evident in the jabbering, distorted synths swirling around 'Kangaroo', while the title track has the raw, jerky energy of early electro pioneer (and Mute founder) Daniel Miller.
After their pop-aspiring last record Homosapians found Australian electronic experimentalists PVT playing arena gigs in support of Gotye, New Spirit marks a sharp change in direction, leaning further into straight-up dance music than previous efforts whilst employing colder, gloomier sounds. Eerie, sustained synths and ghostly digital reverb makes this latest effort a tense and uneasy listen, with Richard Pike and co adopting a dark techno-futurism that takes cues from patron saint of neon dystopia El-P. Nine-minute single Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend is a slow-boil banger named after an environmentalist photograph that's a renowned symbol of Australian activism, suggesting PVT have politics on the mind.