10/1 KUMD Album Review: Vivielle

Vivielle - Something That Isn't There

Vivielle—Something That Isn't There

The transition from summer to fall is always hard to make.  The leaves fall off the trees, the sky gets permanently cloudy, and the students try to ease back into school.  Luckily, Vivielle is back to make the transition a little bit easier.  On their latest, Something That Isn’t There, the Duluth four-piece delivers ten tracks of autumn-ready melancholia— a perfect soundtrack for the fall season.

What’s striking about Vivielle’s sophomore release is the versatility— in songwriting and musicality— throughout the work.  Vocal duties are shared by Rosalie Uggla and multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Harvie, both of whom trade verses and harmonies across Something That Isn’t There.  This gives the album a varied style vocally, paired with crisp instrumentation that builds into curiosity.  Case in point: the dreamy lo-fi nature of “Sister” is accompanied by a wailing guitar solo, and in “No Pockets,” distant percussion underscores a sweet back-and-forth between Uggla and Harvie, all before the song devolves into a beautifully frenetic cacophony. Grace Holden of Red Mountain also lends some trumpet to “Olivia” and “Something Else,” giving each track a Beirut vibe, all while feeling distinctly Duluth.

Minor chords and tones seemingly align Vivielle with autumn, however the record’s gloomy and sometimes dark lyricism steers Vivielle completely away from summer and into the next season.  A somber innocence seems to hover around the lo-fi “Sorry You Saw That,” until Uggla utters the lines: “mother****er mows his lawn in the morning/while we’re writing, while our papers are blowing/and we’d kill him if we could live with ourselves.”  On the upbeat “Sister,” Uggla and Harvie bring up mortality, reminding a sibling that “all your friends are going to die.”  While not a title track, “Something Else” feels tangentially tied to the work, and the opening lyrics seem to succinctly define Vivielle’s outlook: “I don’t joke when I say that I’m glad to be this cold again/And I won’t choke up when it’s time for me to die.”

While perfect for the summer-fall transition, Vivielle could very well be considered a multi-seasonal band.  Their intro track— simply titled “Prologue”— features a rain shower, some reversed sounds, and an eerie recorded silence.  While not immediately evocative of any particular season, the rain does feel vaguely reminiscent of April’s showers, and the audible silence conjures up the cold winds of winter.  The song itself has no vocals and isn’t a particular standout track, but it makes you wonder why Vivielle included it.  Then you get the joke and realize you could be looking for Something That Isn’t There.