- Everyone loves pop music. Even the most fervent experimental heads tend to ride for a certain Carpenters or Taylor Swift record. It's fitting, then, that Ostgut Ton would get around to releasing a pop album. Enter Virginia, the label regular who has been lending her warm alto to various productions since the mid-'90s, moving between the commercial and underground dance worlds with minor hits like the Tom Novy collaboration "I Rock." Though she released an LP under her given name (Virginia Nascimento) in 2008, she's come into her own as an artist since allying with Steffi, Panorama Bar and Ostgut Ton. On Fierce For The Night, her album debut for Berghain's label, Virginia pulls from classic dance styles the way she does in her DJ sets. Her voice is a steadying force as she moves through house, electro and R&B.
Like most pop albums, Fierce For The Night is front-loaded. Virginia's singing on Steffi's 2011 track "Yours" showed her ease with addictive hooks, and she follows suit on opener "Bally Linny," doubling her voice for the chorus, "When you've found love, don't wanna play or mess around." "1977" is less urgent. A breezy, boogie-sourced synth lead prefaces a cloying '80s-style vocal imploring an unnamed lover, "Relieve me baby and let me feel good… just for tonight." As the pop medium would dictate, most of Virginia's lyrics are odes to feeling good or bittersweet love.
On the production front, however, this is cracking analog house music, bolstered by co-producers Dexter, Martyn and Steffi. The blustery beginning drops into an electro sound inspired by the Strafe, Cybotron and Aleem records Virginia treasures (the vocoder at the end of "Obstacle" is a nice hat tip to her forebears). That said, these tunes take on the linear, unchanging construction of dance floor tools. There are defined verses and choruses on nearly every cut, though only a couple of songs with a bridge, another standard element of pop song structure. Virginia breaks this mold on the excellent slow jam "Subdued Colours." An electric bass follows her through various melodic changes, only to be usurped by a wall of string synths that reaches the yearning heights of early New Order.
Fierce For The Night avoids the dreaded monotony of house albums by switching styles every few tracks, and still its sound remains consistent. This is partially because the same classic synths and drum machines appear throughout the record, but it's mostly due to Virginia's voice, a reserved take on American house divas. Late in the album, Detroit techno pads ("Raverd") and acid ("Follow Me") are integrated to middling ends, but an unabashed '90s New York house tribute, "Funkert," strikes gold. Virginia's distant vocal effect works perfectly for the song's lyrical kiss-off. She sings, "I don't want your loving, don't wanna feel like this," over swinging drums and a minimal bassline that wouldn't sound out of place on a Nervous Records classic. Extending that comparison, Virginia is Ostgut Ton's studio-wise Kim English, the versatile voice of a storied institution.
01. Bally Linny
05. Believe In Time
06. Subdued Colors
08. Fierce For The Night
10. Follow Me