Not shying away from statements about its own music and agendas, V for Vendetta's political and philosophical statements may sometimes be a bit subtle and oblique, but its messages are always clear. V for Vendetta is fighting against the usual sloppiness of indie-rock, and while its own instrumentation is minimal, Beneath This Mask Another Mask's complexities prove without words just what can be done with two electric guitars and a couple of chords. With songs titles like "Math-Rock is Not a Four-Letter Word, It's Two Four-Letter Words (Me and L'il Rabbit Fou-Fou Battle Identity Politics)" that are more like statements than identifiers, V for Vendetta uses every element of its music to communicate its beliefs. With lyrics like "I know the rules and I don't accept them," from "Means Matter: Get Your Aesthetics Off My Jock", V for Vendetta is making its position readily apparent to its listeners.
Unfortunately, this stance sometimes makes V for Vendetta's music a bit off-putting. While Beneath This Mask Another Mask is hardly calculated in a cold, inhuman way, there is still something a bit distant to the majority of the album. The vocals of Michelle Marchese (sometimes joined by bandmate Cara Hyde) are approachable but are usually slightly monotone at the same time, making even these seem impersonal. V for Vendetta emphasizes structure and content over emotional appeal, and while that does allow for listeners to appreciate its music on a rational level, it does little to connect on an intuitive one. Songs like "Revenge Is Always the Best Medicine But It Takes a Spoonful of Sugar to Go Down" offer glimpses into heartbreak, but Beneath This Mask Another Mask doesn't reveal true emotions until almost the end, with the honestly fragile "The Politics of Feeling O.K." without abandoning the sound that has been previously established. With lyrics like "We cry ourselves to sleep when no one's listening", this song comes at just the right time, giving V for Vendetta a new dimension. In other ways, though, it's almost too little too late. If V for Vendetta is capable of sharing such private thoughts, why hasn't it done it all along?
That's the conflict with Beneath This Mask Another Mask. V for Vendetta's opinions are easy to respect, and its music is commendable in its intricacy, but these are merely intellectual evaluations. Little is done to create an emotional bond with listeners. Like the album title suggests, V for Vendetta is still holding something back. Wouldn't you rather see what's under the second mask instead of just the first?