What is it with electronic music and space, eh? I guess the tone of a synth has always been a great soundtrack to the future. And if you’re a fan of musicians that sound like they’ve engaged in time-travel and enjoy conveying their visions of the year 3000 via pop music, then by jove are you gonna love Helium Robots.
Voltopia feels like an album in two acts, the first tracks being orchestrated around singing a la Lydia. ‘Silver’ is the highlight of the vocal driven songs, proclaiming ‘Robots will walk the earth’ endlessly like a sort of Flaming Lips inspired mantra for a sinister new religion. The lyrics are delivered in a manner that is haunting and yet also slightly, and appropriately, robotic. It’s the closest thing to a pop song on Voltopia, yet it has an inherent sadness that results in a kind of sci-fi eulogy.
‘Night Fullerine’ resides in the album’s second half, and it is by far the strongest track on the album. No vocals allowed here as they’d distract from the ambient noise and metallic nursery rhyme melody. It shows most clearly just how talented Ewan and Lydia are – ‘Night Fullerine’ possesses a subtly that’s lost in all the far-away galaxy tales before it. This is immediately followed by ‘Delve’ which sounds like it was written by an autobot using hip-hop and Saved by the Bell’s version of what was cool in the 90s as its influences.
Finisher ‘Bring Drinking’ is not only a surprisingly hard to say (seriously, your brain doesn’t want to get those syllables out), but also a thoroughly good summation and send off for Voltopia. It’s ambitious in taking elements of the more heavily electro and rave-ish end of the spectrum and prompts considerable movement. The rest of the offering is perhaps more suited to contemplating the end of reality or pining over a toaster you once had a crush on.
Voltopia has it’s high points, and it’s clear that Helium Robots have a fantastic grasp of how to make an album that feels unified and thematic. Either that or they find it hard to do anything apart from dystopian ballads about soulless machines. But, we’ll leave that for you to decide.
- Suzie McCracken