Venus Mission's Strong Second Effort Reflects Dynamic Vision
“Love Me Back Alive” is the ambitious second offering from Venus Mission, a hot five-piece outfit from Cincinnati. Fusing several genres together, such as synth-pop, singer/songwriter fare, with a rock edge to boot, Venus Mission succeeds in creating a textured, dynamic soundscape of hook-filled songs.
The project is the brainchild/vision of Andrea Rosenthal, who writes, sings lead, and plays keyboards thru out the disc. Her sexy, throaty vocals spiral and glide throughout the swirling mixes, not unlike Fiona Apple or Tori Amos’s vocal styles.
Rosenthal enlisted a cast of all-stars to help her produce this collection, including co-producer, Ric Hordinski of “Over the Rhine” fame, Richard Dodd, a Nashville ace who mastered it, and John Curley, an ex-“Afghan Whig”, who engineered it. Their efforts give the finished songs a contemporary sheen without glossing over their intimacy.
This disc’s sonic grooves often rely on layered tracks that sample hints of hip-hop with more traditional rock-based hooks. For good measure, Rosenthal’s fiery vocal phrasing rides herd on the more ethereal arrangements.
With so many new bands instantly pigeonholed into restrictive labels, whether it’s alt-country or MOR pop, it’s refreshing to find a band today who don’t limit themselves to a paint-by-numbers sound. From the strong, should-be-a-single, “Everybody in this Town”, to the angry lament of “Too Bad”, these songs complement each other, which makes the disc blend into a cohesive whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Building on the momentum of their first disc, “MidWestern Soul”, whose title goes far in describing their vision, Venus Mission displays growth here with a mature look at love and all its mutations. Lyrical imagery shades these songs in rich hues, ranging from the yearning tones of “High Road”, to the more caustic ones of “Girls of Virtue”. It’s a familiar journey to anyone who has ever loved deeply and lost, but who still yearns for a new connection. In other words, most of us can relate to this emotional palette.
For a mid-sized city with a sometimes-shaky rep, Cincinnati has boasted a thriving local music scene for years. Bands with national profiles like the Afghan Whigs, the Ass Ponys, Over the Rhine, the Bears, and the Greenhornes have all cut their teeth in this funky Ohio River town. With two fine releases under their belt, Venus Mission could now be on the cusp of breaking out. “Love Me Back Alive” will stir you up, and that’s never a bad thing.