Viva Voce's latest, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, could have added the subtitle, "And Let the Stoner Rock In." The Portland husband-and-wife duo of Anita and Kevin Robinson have swapped some of the spacier excursions of their previous records for enveloping layers of '70s guitar fuzz and blustery rhythms familiar to bong-hitters everywhere. Viva Voce have used these sounds before, but not to this extent. Yet this is stoner rock for the indie set, so every suggestion of Led Zeppelin or Queen gets filtered through a Sonic Youth or Yo La Tengo aesthetic, which helps keep the bombast and pagan iconography at bay. Disc-opener "Believer" may hint at a Jimmy Page-like stomp with its maximum-buzz guitar riff, distorted bass, and overdubbed handclap percussion, but in Viva Voce's hands it's not unlike something the Pink Mountaintops would record if they had happier pot. "From the Devil Himself," which provides the album's title and sums up its anti-bloodsucker themes, is a catchy double-time blast of Anita Robinson's processed lead guitar and walls of percussion supporting the Mamas & the Papas-like harmonies, a reminder of the pop sensibilities at the core of the Viva Voce's music. "We Do Not Fuck Around" is audio schizophrenia, shifting back and forth between dramatic Freddie Mercury-like piano and a noisy indie rock anthem built around the song's title, while "So Many Miles" is a bluesy, hypnotic barrage of feedback blasts and bruising rhythms that erupts into an unlikely horn-filled bridge and an outro breakdown Charles Mingus might admire. Anita and Kevin share the singing duties throughout, the former's soothing half-whisper providing nice contrast on the hardest rockers. But Viva Voce haven't entirely abandoned their trippier side or poppier inclinations, either: "Helicopter" and "How to Nurse a Bruised Ego" rely on gently ascending crescendos built on guitar drones and synth washes; "Faster Than a Dead Horse" is up-tempo, summery indie rock with Anita executing a perfectly passable Ira Kaplan feedback fest; and "Never Be Like Yesterday"is wistful minor-key pop featuring guitar curlicues and plangent piano runs. The record is an odd mix of influences and sonic elements you don't often hear together -- especially within individual songs -- and occasionally it sounds like the ship might sink under the weight of all that musical cargo. But Viva Voce seems comfortable in all these styles, and beneath the veneers the songs stand tall -- if not exactly still.
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AllMusic Review by John Schacht