Now for a sterling example of a band getting better over time.
What is it?
Transnational is VNV Nation’s ten-track 2013 release, and is the most current regular studio album in their discography.
How does it sound?
Which of us the sampler, which of us the mix:
Why this pick?
I have a weird relationship with VNV Nation specifically and what’s called EBM (or EDM and let’s not even start on the pedantry involved in the differentiation) in general. When it works for me, it really works. When it doesn’t, it’s off-putting as heck. There’s very little middle ground here. I got into VNV in late 2010, just before Automatic came out. For that album, and for the several beforehand, I ended up really liking three or maybe four songs and can take-or-leave the rest.
Not so, for Transnational. I like a whole lot of this album a whole lot.
Which songs are the highlights?
“Everything” and “If I Was” are excellent examples of the “up” side of VNV’s songwriting, while “Retaliate” serves as an equally excellent example of their “grim” side. (More on that, later.)
Of the unvoiced tracks, you could take “Aeroscope” and use it in a Matrix-type knockoff action movie and it’d fit right in, while “Generator” serves as a nice lead-in to the album.
Which songs don’t work so well?
The first “Teleconnect” track is one of those stately, slow, serious tracks that tends to put me to sleep. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t work for me at all. The second “Teleconnect” track is half-again as long as the first; I wish there was a good-parts edit available but as it is, it’s still not too engaging.
Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?
I nearly chose Automatic, my first “new” VNV album, released right after I’d gotten into the band. It’s a bit more front-loaded with the quality cuts than Transnational, however, and the later songs don’t hold up as well.
Any final thoughts?
What I find most amusing about the band’s work is its extreme dichotomy. On the one hand you get upbeat songs about the grace, power, and potential of humankind, such as “The Farthest Star” on the Judgement album. On the other hand you get grim diatribes about how humanity can’t seem to stop screwing everything up, such as “Testament,” the song immediately after “The Farthest Star.” There is no in-between, near as I can tell.
Basically, whichever mood you happen to be in regarding the world we inhabit today, VNV have you covered.
And yes, I somehow put together a sampler with absolutely zero vocals. Whoops.