Viva Voce

The Heat Can Melt Your Brain

Kevin and Anita Robinson -- the immensely talented husband-and-wife team behind Viva Voce -- undoubtedly have the chemistry. Their spacious old house in Portland, Ore., is the lab. And when they fire up the vintage tube amps and break out the double-necked guitars, Mellotron, handsaw, electric kazoo, bongos, lap steel, and 20-odd other assorted instruments both are skilled at playing, the couple's experiments almost always coalesce into genuine indie-pop marvels. Though the distorted garage riffs and stumbly drum fills that launch Heat's opener, "Alive With Pleasure," suggest a raucous Jack 'n' Meg workout to come, the song quickly turns wispy and psychedelic when Anita's sweet, coquettish coo takes over. Standout tunes like the gently propulsive "The Lucky Ones," the twinkling, prog-groovy "The Center of the Universe," the tiki-tastic "Free Nude Celebs," and the swaying, hypnotic closer, "They Never Really Wake Up," are lush and sophisticated in their production but childlike in their sense of wonder and exploration (and, occasionally, apprehension). There's a whole lotta sonic goodness emanating from Viva Voce HQ -- somehow, it only takes two to make this thing go so goddamn right.

 
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