VIVA VOCE Married and talented.
Viva Voce
Tues Sept 14
Music Millenium
801 NW 23rd

Loosely translated from Italian, Viva Voce means "by word of mouth," which couldn't be more fitting for husband and wife duo Anita and Kevin Robinson--an increasing number of wide-eyed converts have been singing their praises across the Northwest of late. Viva Voce's been one of those "Why the hell haven't I heard this awesome band before?" bands since their 1998 inception in Nashville, but hopefully that's about to change--and not just because word of Anita's crystalline pipes or Kevin's psych-damaged chill-pop hooks is getting around.

Beloved indie label Minty Fresh is releasing the duo's newest mindblower this September, gaining Viva Voce more visibility and better distribution than they've previously had on their old label, Asthmatic Kitty. The Heat Can Melt Your Brain, as its title might suggest, is an absolute scorcher. The Robinsons have built substantially on their excellent 2003 release, Lovers Lead the Way, adding brighter hooks and more irreverent quirk to their already-rich stew of ELO-style epic odyssey rock, electronic blip-hop, and 13th Floor Elevators-style psychedelia. The album's most shining hit, "Alive with Pleasure" is a bitchin' dish indeed--farty low-end synths balloon through smooth grooves before Anita's shockingly Cardigans-esque vocals cut through, coyly singing, "Give it some time/You'll make it with me/We'll be just fine." (By "make it," she means "do it." Maybe.) The jam then gets really Rubber Soul, as does much of the rest of the album--there is no shortage of the wah-wah. More than anything, the duo's sound has become about balance: male and female, yin and yang, crisp and gooey, optimistic and bummed.

Last year, Viva Voce had the good fortune to tour with Calexico, and they have several weeks' worth of dates lined up this year as well, including some in Europe. After returning, the ever-persevering couple plans to record even more material together. Thankfully, since they masterfully tackle all of the instrumentation duties themselves (Anita is classically trained in guitar; Kevin's side project is a hiphop troupe called Electric III, and he cuts most of the beats), recording isn't as big of a production as it can be for other bands who sound as rich as Viva Voce.