Patterns of Behaviour LP
What a truly unexpected pleasure Patterns of Behaviour is, purely because it confounds my prejudices. You see, I struggle with electronic, dancey music. I’m like a rather stupid man stuck in remote parts without so much as a phrasebook to help me stutter ‘I zee a sheep in a har-bour! Der-der-der’. I try to understand it but it’s all a wall of noise. So much of it seems like music made by computers, for computers.
What’s more these ‘collective’ outfits with their guest vocalists just bring to mind Zero 7 or UNKLE, making excuses to either be terribly bland or let Yorke or Ashcroft do their own particular brand of yabbadabbadoo over some, like, ‘beats’. Horrid visions rear up of line managers falling face-first through their coffee tables as the fine wine and Belgian chocolates kick in.
All this is feared as ‘Lost in a Field’ strolls into earshot with acoustic guitar, heavy atmospherics et al, but it’s unfounded. Viva Stereo’s music has a real, beating heart. The band are open about the loss, rejection and upheaval that inspired the album. Whether in the harsh duet of the title track or the acoustic angst of ‘Ridden’, the eternal truths of dead and dying love are here – you hurt me, no, YOU hurt ME, why did you do it? – and are always believable.
Viva Stereo don’t have a ‘sound’ as such, they have lots of them. A spoken word piece like ‘Gone’ can be followed by the brief threat of country banjo hijinks without any loss of cohesion, as the superb production and enduring sense of claustrophobia and paranoia keep the mood constant. The numerous vocalists aren’t superfluous, but each adds their own colour to the overall picture.
By the last two tracks (these are more conventional, mournful slow numbers) there seems to be a sense of resolution, not to mention comedown, as the album eases to its close. The pain is still there, but there’s acceptance as well.
Anyone can dabble in this kind of thing. Few can do it really well though, and those who can – Viva Stereo, this is you – are well worth following.
Written by McLaughlin on