For several years, Austin-based quintet Voxtrot has been making some noise in the indie rock listening community. The occasional track would pepper a friendly mix CD made for a long flight — the certain track that lets your friend or significant other know that, “you’re cool but aren’t I cool too for knowing about Voxtrot?” And now the time has arrived to determine whether or not the band can be something more than an underground band with a few stand-outs and become a hipster household name. Three EPs and seven 7-inches later, the band has finally released a full-length album they can call their own.
The album does not disappoint. It still has Ramesh Srivastava’s powerful vocals combined with well-layered instrumentation. The less transparent rock aspects of the songs are interwoven with blissful arpeggios and thick, floating string arrangements. However, what a full-length album uniquely offers over an EP is an opportunity for would-be fans to see what the band can do given the proper space. Unfortunately, the album does not give a lot of breathing room between the pounding sessions of bittersweet anthems. Voxtrot could have benefited slightly from a few more withdrawn and intimate moments like ‘Real Life Version’ to add a little color to the flat apex the majority of the album sustains.
Their sound invariably draws comparisons to Belle & Sebastian’s more recent style. Voxtrot’s brand of Britpop revisionism, though palpable, is subtle enough not to come off at all as a gimmick. Though songs like ‘Stephen’ might have appeared just as easily on the Zombies’ classic, Odessey and Oracle, the real attention grabbing is embedded in the innocent, exuberant melodies and dynamic song structures. Pleasantly, there are multiple attempts made to vary their repertoire, which are all at least partially successful. The album’s middle section is full of extremely catchy but somewhat forgettable rock tunes. Bookending the album, however, are two sets of very dramatic songs that demonstrate a more introspective and capable group than some of their music portrays. These songs make the album great, though it might never be realized.