The PVT trio – brothers Richard and Laurence Pike with friend Dave Miller – re-emerge after a quiet few years since 2012’s Homosapien album. Their sound has moved on from previous math rock shading and further into electronica while still being friendly company for fans of either.
The album is suffused with warm blushes of light and colour inspired by the heavy keyboard presence throughout: Boards Of Canada-esque closer ‘Fake Sun In China’ being a fair example of the record’s pulse. This belies the discomforting lyrical focus: ‘fake sun’, ‘salt lake’, ‘murder mall’ – there’s an apparent fin-de-siècle concern being drummed home. The album’s cornerstone is ‘Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend’, a nine minute epic of gradually unfolding details built around an initial beat that wouldn’t sound out of place on the late Nineties Clicks n Cuts compilation series – the simplest of dulled taps glowing gently as the mournful machine-tooled vocal begins to sketch scene and moment “the mist hangs over heedlessly…the birds are singing needlessly. All good things come to an end.” There’s a spaciousness to every sound on here: the bass on ‘Salt Lake Heart’ firmly plucked one percussive note at a time, keyboard flourishes flitting across the high-end, lines gasped with a rumbling treated double backing it on some lines.
This isolation and separation emphasises the way most of these tracks – like a lot of bedroom electronics – are built on the accretion/subtraction of layers rather than on coincidental interactions and decision points. If there’s a band playing in a room together then the results are heavily buried. That does impact the pacing at times, with a fairly steady tempo underpinning the entirety of New Spirit – and numerous points where the air of Eighties Ultravox is invoked.