Repeated listening doesn't make things clearer nor catchier, as its obtuseness makes what is indeterminate less than compelling.
You might be surprised when you hear the mix of ambient beeps, ghostly vocals, and electronic loops on VV Brown’s latest album, but it’s no glitch: this is what VV Brown sounds like today. The former pop singer has dove deeply into the avant-garde musical world. Her second full length release does not resemble her first disc in any discernable way but it does incorporate music from her EP Samson and Delilah.
Some critics have hailed Glitch as a creative work of genius. Others have been more circumspect but still have given Brown credit for her growth as an artist. Sadly, this praise does not hold up. Too much of Glitch seems unfriendly and unfinished for either the dance floor or the concert hall. Repeated listening to the disc does not make things clearer or catchier as its intentional obtuseness makes what is indeterminate less than compelling. Ambiguity for its own sake borders on intellectual masturbation.
Not that there’s anything wrong with masturbation, but one would find it hard to be aroused by the dark and gloomy music here. This may not be the Fall, but the mechanical grating of noise against noise and shadowy vocals make the music bleak and depressing. Even the most upbeat track, “I Can Give You More”, clanks away with the weight of iron chains more than elevates the spirit. Different strokes for different folks, indeed.
Sometimes when one’s half-awake the din of voices outside, the racket of the appliances, and the clamor of the streets blend to make a certain rhythmic drone that reminds one that an individual is never alone and that hell is other people. That seems to be the latent point here. A song about life becomes one called “Money Sex Power” as if that’s all there is to it and in that order. We may need each other, but we have to make mountains of ourselves to survive unbroken. It’s one thing to be as strong as a rock (“Igneous”) but another thing to just be an unfeeling stone
There is little silence to be found on “Glitch.” Even the quiet moments still have a gray buzz and clatter. “Tell me what you are looking for,” Brown asks on “Looking for Love,” but she never gives her imaginary companion time or space to respond. She’s already aware of the risks surrounding such a relationship and doesn’t want to find out. The song, like several others here, just drifts away and stops in lieu of an ending. The more danceable tracks, such as “The Apple” and “Lazarus” come across as the aural equivalent of a neon sign missing a few strategic lightbulbs, so that a message like "Also Starring" becomes "Also Staring", something menacing despite the luminosity. And with a title like “Flatline”, there is no surprise that nothing much really changes over the course of the track.
Brown is keenly aware of the problems of the world. She has been active in giving to charity in many of her projects, and ten percent of the royalties on her new self-released album will go to Save the Children. She should be applauded for her efforts to improve the world, but maybe she needs to look away for a while and search within herself for the strength and joy required to create.