Virtue’s experimental fun provides a bold, expansive listening experience


Following the release of his solo work, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas decided to find a new group to pursue his more “out there” musical interest. This led to the creation of The Voidz, a 6-man act birthed in late 2013. The group kicked off 2018 with the release of their sophomore album Virtue, a highly anticipated follow up to their first.

Virtue follows the band’s debut album, Tyranny – an experimental record that crosses the lines of everything from synth-riddled pop to noisy progressive rock. Virtue possesses many elements from its predecessor but adds in a whole new slew of sounds ranging from 80’s-inspired electronic synths to new wave to psychedelic rock. The record clearly displays a fair amount of self-indulgence on Casablancas’ part – Virtue isn’t made to be a chart-topper or something played on the radio; it’s music that the band has made for themselves, for fun and for the love of it.

The opening track, “Leave It In My Dreams” presents a disarming, friendly introduction to the album. Along the catchy chorus to the dreamy guitar riffs constant throughout the song, Casablanca’s lazy, just-rolled-out-of-bed delivery kicks off Virtue on the dreamy side. Third on the record is “Pyramid of Bones,” a grinding, chaotic nu-metal track that ends with a surprisingly gothic guitar solo. The pulsating, dreamy “ALieNNatioN” almost sounds like some form of futuristic elevator music – undertones of dread and impending doom swirl through the 8-bit synths and keyboard notes, blending together into a confusingly well-put together wall of sound.

While at first listen, Virtue may not appear to have significant lyrical content, a further look shows that the album is surprisingly political. This may be most apparent on the provocative “We’re Where We Were,” which opens with the harsh, “New holocaust happening / What, are you blind? / We’re in Germany now, 1939.” On “Think Before You Drink,” Casablancas bitterly details the corruption of the government and blindness of society, comparing the information fed to him throughout schooling to poison.

On the track “Permanent High School,” Casablancas sings, “just because something’s popular / doesn’t mean it’s good,” a statement that captures the ethos of Virtue and Casablancas’ philosophies. Virtue is by no means an easy listen for someone who doesn’t consider themselves a fan of Casablancas or The Voidz and does require a certain amount of open-mindedness while listening. Virtue is quirky, it’s weird, and it’s borderline unsettling, but it provides something for every listener to love.

In an interview with Vulture, Casablancas stated that Virtue was “futuristic prison jazz.” While that may not be the clearest definition of what the album is acoustically, it encapsulates the idea that the band intends to produce.