The husband and wife duo Viva Voce are based in Portland, have released records with respected labels like Barsuk and Asthmatic Kitty and toured with Jimmy Eat World and The Shins. They favor heavily reverbed, Mazzy Star-like melodies and rigidly metronomic beats that often sound like a drum machine even when there’s a person on the skins. But if you look beneath their heavy alt-rock signifiers, Kevin and Anita Robinson often sound like an old-fashion country music duo with the comfortable, give-and-take interplay of a John and June or Kenny and Dolly. On her own, Anita tends to draws out her vocal lines to blend in with the languid guitar melodies as another layer of sound, but when singing in tandem with Kevin, the pair exude a forceful presence.
Viva Voce sneak all kinds of genre-jumping fun into their delay-ridden tracks. Opener “Plastic Radio” features strutting classic-rock riffs that have been processed to sound like a faded Polaroid, there’s some crunchy country twang beneath all the tremolo in “Analog Woodland Song,” and the purposefully stiff drum tracks nod to early hip-hop and Kraftwerk. During the middle section of The Future Will Destroy You, the pair’s sixth album, the layers of woozy keyboards and guitars treated to sound like woozy keyboards suggest that Viva Voce sometimes get caught up with mad scientist studio experimenting at the expense of memorable songs. But whenever Future starts to glide along too airily, the Robinsons can be trusted to use their on-off harmonies to give their best songs a spark that helps them rise above as merely sounding pretty.