The Golden Filter’s Völuspà is really really close to being an incredible album. Listen to first song “Dance Around The Fire” or first single “Solid Gold,” and you’ll see what I mean. The songs are marked by phenomenally lush instrumentation, vaguely unidentifiable exoticism, trance-inducing but catchy melodies, pulsing swells and releases. And yet – and it’s a huge yet, the type you should say with a big sigh – the album is generally disappointing. The expression “so close but yet so far” was made for Völuspà.
Normally, I would say that Völuspà is a letdown because of the expectations set by the two aforementioned songs, but I don’t think that’s quite it here. There’s a pretty uniform level of nu-disco success across the album’s length that counters the bump-and-slump explanation for The Golden Filter’s stumble. Instead, I think the band simply has trouble figuring out what to do with this sound that they have so excellently cultivated in their short history as a recording group. The Golden Filter is speeding down a highway and making great time, but they’re ignoring all the exits. A couple detours here or there, into unfamiliar territory, would be a welcome respite from the monotony of the road.
The tracks on Völuspà blend together – not entirely unpleasantly – to the album’s detriment. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noted before, but listening to Völuspà in its entirety feels like listening to two or three songs on repeat, causing the album to wear extremely fast. I find myself flipping on the album, listening to the stellar opening track, and then tuning out for about forty-five minutes. “Thunderbird” grabs my attention again at the album’s close, but with a sort of “Hey, this sounds like ‘Solid Gold’” vibe. A couple self-referential high points do not an incredible album make; Völuspà is great for what it is, but what it is is mostly background music.
62 — [Rating Scale]