Recorded, produced, mixed, and edited by Violens themselves, this debut keeps getting compared with MGMT. These are unfortunate comparisons, to a certain extent, because the truth is that as musical proposals they have nothing to do with each other. All right, in “Amoral” we’re looking at another example of art-pop “made in New York,” and we could call the sound of “Violent Sensation Descends” somewhat in the line of “Oracular Spectacular,” but anything further sounds like the music press is being lazy. In reality, there are no substantial connections between the two groups beyond the fact that they are friends and share the idea of a pop music with colourful and diffuse sensations. Well, there is one thing that’s remarkable: they also share the idea of shaping albums in which the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, that is to say, albums. “Amoral” is one, there is no doubt about it, and all that’s left is to classify it without prejudices, without trying to fit it instantly into any niche, without ascribing it to any reigning trend, as has unfortunately occurred with MGMT and their massacred second album, an album that everyone would have praised, had it been released by an unknown, debut band. With Violens we can’t fall into that trap. So let’s leave aside modernism that isn’t modern, and let impetus and freshness rule.
Created from the musical-artistic group Lansing-Dreiden, Violens has a typical, ordinary biography. For the Florida connection, it reminds one of The Drums, a band that has similar ideas, but a much more purist line. The visitors counter on their MySpace is rising fast, and they are already winning people over with their name itself, that phonetically dislocated “violence.” All odds should be a hundred to one, but lately it’s surprising that the best list of “bands to watch” of the year (NME’s) has completely ignored them. There is nothing to worry about, though. We’re still in time to welcome Violens as they deserve, among other things because Jorge Elbrecht works conscientiously to make sure this is the case. In his first interviews, the leader of Violens gave intelligent, analytical, and revealing answers about the state of recent pop. To top it off, all of the members of the group are very good and they know how to dress; ready, steady, go, to leave the hotels rooms that they stay in an awful state. Yes they do.
“Amoral” can strut cockily around in front of any little British rock group. A little bit like what happens with the releases of Voxtrot, The Isles or The Drums themselves –all of them students of The Smiths, they confirm that American ability to eat up an Albion that is less perfidious with every passing year. Unlike the pastiches that cloud the heads of so many “new” British bands, Violens take their foot off the brake of spirited pop-rock and they put the music in gear with a firm, solid, convincing touch, handling the turns with the proper tact, and without ever letting strange manoeuvres frighten them. Elbrecht has declared that the point of departure for writing “Amoral” was that of achieving a sound open to many different styles. So, here we find touches of dark punk, sentimental edges, erotic psychedelics, and resources taken from the best indie instruction manual possible: they like to quote groups that I have a weakness for, like Unrest and The Monochrome Set. This is precisely what makes this first album great, sounding multi-coloured and multi-shaped without ever going overboard, blessed with the gift of a space-time ubiquity that never loses its way.
“Amoral” is full of love at first listening. Bull’s-eyes like “The Dawn of your Happiness Is Rising”, good shots like “Acid Reign”, hooks like the gusts of glam of “Could You Stand to Know?”, vintage airs in “Another Strike Restrained”. The majority of the songs sound alive, rich, well-lubricated, sarcastic, and fierce. Changing temperature all the time—now they burn you up, next they freeze you out—they bring together some of the best news of the British 80’s to rewrite them in their own way, bouncing between the urgency of Duran Duran and the distinction of The Blue Nile (“It Couldn’t Be Perceived”), or between the Smiths of “How Soon Is Now?” (“Are You Still in the Illusion?”) and the Prefab Sprout of “Faron Young” (“Full Collision”). The tremendous first half is better than the second, when the shadow of a doubt may form. But what about filler songs? No, nothing bothers you too much here. When you finish listening to “Amoral” the only thing you want to do is get back to its point of departure immediately and see that as a prototype of classic pop-rock, this band leaves this quarter’s less hard-working students like Klaxons and Interpol in their skivvies. A solid eight, for sure.