Winking at us like the morning sun peeking out over the horizon at dawn, “Stars and Rainbows” starts off with as dreamy a tonal offering as we could ask for. Not unlike the pleasant ascent of “In My Mouth,” this song sees Fredo Viola scaling a mountain of misunderstanding with plaintive poeticisms that cut deep and sting long after the music has ceased to play.
“My Secret Power” is a bit more direct thanks to its hearty instrumental harmonies and “Edwin Vargas” a touch more multilayered through its complex arrangement, but no matter the size or shape of the content being hurled at us from the darkness in Viola’s new album My New Head, it constantly feels as though we’re hearing something previously kept quite secure within the heart of its creator. There are no boundaries he won’t cross if it means translating emotionality with a melodic whim limited to only the most profound artists among us, and although there’s an argument to be had that he’s got a more elaborate means of making a larger than life tracklist than the status quo calls for, it’s undisputedly the most unique I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with in the past year.
“Sunset Road” and bonus cut “Downtown” (a cover of the 1960s classic) are cut from the same aesthetical cloth, but they don’t give us nearly as much insight into the depth of passion Viola has for the narrative in My New Head as the instrumental “Demolition” and its immediate successor “Pine Birds” do. I actually found that it’s in the simplest of moments here that we get the clearest picture of the artist we’re dealing with beneath the clouds of smoke obscuring his identity – and occasionally making it possible for us to mistake it for our own – which says more about his straightforwardness than it does anything regarding his showmanship. “Clouded Mirror” and “Kick the Sick” are still episodic segues of grand luster, even if they do incorporate unnecessary fireworks, and at no point does any of the content in My New Head sound like filler in the traditional sense of the term.
In tracks like the noisy sonnet “Black Box,” there’s a fragility to the performance Fredo Viola is giving us that feels nothing like what we get from the more familiar “Waiting for Seth,” but when consumed in its entirety (as was mandated by the man behind the music himself), all of the songs comprising this album form a patchwork of personal statements and commentarial poetry you would never find anywhere else in the world. Viola changes the game for himself and the scene he’s come to reign over so supremely in the past ten years with My New Head, and if what I’m hearing in this record is giving me any sort of a preview as to what the future is going to look and sound like for his camp, this might not be the last landmark release his discography enjoys in the early 2020s. No matter how you dice it, this LP is a winner for anyone with an affinity for incendiary alternative music.
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