When a band initially starts out as an improvisational-based experiment, its inevitable that one day they'll discover then settle on a certain formula for the foreseeable future. Having started out on their voyage of discovery nearly fifteen years ago, brothers Richard and Laurence Pike have spent the ensuing period steadily crafting PVT's sound towards the polished electronica rushing through the heart of 'Homosapien''s core. What that means is a long player which can best be described as a mixed bag.
Although PVT have come a long way since the krautrock inspired sound of 2005's debut 'Make Me Love You', or the harsher caustic avant garde of follow-up 'O Soundtrack My Heart'; the latter fully deserving of its place on the legendary Warp Records imprint; its almost as if they've morphed into a different band entirely. Whereas their previous releases drew comparisons with the noise-infused likes of HEALTH or Holy Fuck, 2010's cleaner sounding 'Church With No Name' veered towards the pop-friendly territories occupied by the likes of Cut Copy and The Presets.
It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise then that they've chosen to plough a similar furrow with 'Homosapien', their fourth and arguably commercially poised collection of songs to date. Not that we'd expect to see PVT battling for chart domination alongside the likes of GaGa and Bieber any time soon either. Although it would be fair to say had this album been released thirty years earlier it may have found solace amidst the Duran Durans and OMDs of this world.
Steeped in as many reference points harking back to the 1980s as it is nouveau electro a la Caribou or Chromatics, 'Homosapien' just falls short of the quality barometer. From the perspective of consistency at any rate, While opener 'Shiver' makes a gallant play for genuine crossover status between old school retrospective and new breed futurism, there's a distinct lack of urgency or direction in the likes of 'Nightfall' or 'New Morning' which occasionally breeds a complacency hailing one step forwards and two steps back.
At its most potent, 'Homosapien' does manage to rival Caribou's 'Swim', but whereas the latter's whole is greater than the sum of its parts, here such moments of captivating grace prove few and far between. 'Evolution' and 'Cold Romance' both pack an immediate punch; revelling in synapse pummelling four-to-the-floor beats while dreamy album mid-point 'Vertigo' throws a halo of reverb around Richard Pike's falsetto vocal to devastating effect.
Nevertheless, even the driving electronic surge of penultimate teaser 'Casual Success' can't entice 'Homosapien' from its average safe haven when PVT should really be aiming for the stars.
Maybe it's time to revisit the experimental lab before delivering album number five?
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