For the follow up to their acclaimed debut Vola has broken away from self-reflection and introspection to focus on external conflicts and how they magnify our fragility and affect our relationships and identities. The record refuses to get trapped in the grungier sound of their debut and is a peripatetic example of their diverse musicianship. The first three tracks demonstrate this very different sonic landscape as they jump from the K pop influenced Ghosts to the industrial tones of Smartfriend to confront our obsession with the body perfect.
The album's lack of musical continuity reflects our separation from the real and our sometimes toxic co-dependency on technology. Ruby Pool and Green Screen Mother use undulating piano refrains to hint at the disintegration of human relationships and resulting isolation. Alien Shivers deals the fallout of with surviving a terrorist attack which manifests as fear in the brutal partner song Still. The modern world is undoubtedly a dark place that's just as troubled as the internal discord that the band confronted in their first album.
Vola's continued drive to dissect human issues through their musical world is nothing if not ambitious. It's certainly not an easy listen in places, with the jarring guitar work and thrusting drums forcing you to sit up and take notice of a deeper cautionary tale of modern life. Once again their fearless genre-jumping has paid off and is an Applause of a Distant Crowd is a bold musical mirror that we should all reflect back at ourselves.
Groupie rating 4/5