photograph from Voyager Facebook page
‘V’ is so polished and shiny it’s almost hilarious. But to their credit, Voyager don’t sound as mechanical as a lot of the modern prog contingent. This album manages to maintain a sense of energy, although it’s an energy more akin to stadium sized rock adrenaline than punk rock spontaneity.
Tracks like ‘You The Shallow’ positively pulse with their tight and coiled grooves, which while obviously technically proficient aren’t as mind bending as say TesseracT, who share obvious similarities with Voyager. Where those bands differ though is that Voyager sound like they wish they were Bon Jovi while TesseracT desperately want to be Pink Floyd.
The pop comparisons easy to make when the music is this catchy, though apart from being richly melodic there’s nothing particularly popular about Voyager. Even the band’s electronic flourishes have more in common with the 80’s than they do contemporary chart focused electronic music. Speaking of the 80’s, vocalist Daniel Estrin recalls the melancholic approach that so characterised the new wave movement in a lot of these tracks, most notably on ‘Embrace the Limitless’. Frequently the band call to mind recent Katatonia releases, but Voyager sound much more like triumphant and euphoric, almost as if Kataonia had chosen to channel Def Leppard instead of Leonard Cohen.
Estrin has apparently also been compared to Duran Duran vocalist Simon Lebon by none other than Chino Moreno of Deftones. Though I feel Estrin implements a lot more of a soaring and explosive rock influence than Lebon,it’s a comparison that makes sense. The flair for obvious hooks is shared between the two.
It has to be said though the band sound best when sticking to stomping mid tempo grooves, when they do try to break the speed limit on ‘Orpheus’ they don’t seem genuine enough in their aggression to pull it off. In some ways though this track just serves to highlight just how much of a command the band have the melodic bombast that’s more typical of the rest of the tracks on this release.
‘V’ is remarkably consistent, every track on here is strong and, bar the damp squib that is ‘Orpheus’ and the entirely pointless ‘Summer Always Comes Again’, there’s nothing on this album that doesn’t fit. But there is a lot on this album. 13 tracks is heavy going in one sitting, unless you’re totally invested in the band’s formulaic nature. Almost any track here would be an instantly feel good burst of melody to any playlist, but it seems a shame that Voyager display so little fat in their song writing and so much in their track listing.
This might not be a problem in the end as prog audiences aren’t exactly known for their lack of attention span, but given the obvious cross over appeal of a band like Voyager they could risk alienating other audiences. Particularly younger ones. But their lack of trendy hair cuts may do that for them anyway.
‘V’ is polished, contemporary and obscenely catchy. It’s an album with an obviously broad appeal and a few genuinely cracking songs on it. It’s just a shame that it’s so long.
‘V’ is available from 2/6/14 via the Voyager Bandcamp page. Physical and digital pre-orders available now.