Album Review: VOLTE – ‘Bipolar’ (Part One) (Music Insight)
Originally published in Music Insight, September 3rd 2018
2018 has been a big year for VOLTE.
The young artist (real name Sam Biland) first rose to prominence last year as the lead singer in the rock band Breakaway.
However, VOLTE’s first venture as a solo artist is a notably different departure from fans expect from him.
This first half of his Bipolar project is a unsettling, but compelling record.
While only three tracks long, the EP delves into a side of VOLTE that fans may not expect. It is a record that documents his struggles with mental illness and bipolar disorder, peering into what the volatile nature of the condition feels like.
VOLTE compliments this personal subject matter with an outstanding change in sound. The tracks have a dark pop aesthetic that feels nocturnal, yet explosive.
The opening track, ‘Dangerous to Love’, sets the stage with it’s bone-chilling lyrics. VOLTE sings about he looks like he is keeping himself together, but his mind is constantly engaged in an exhausting tug-of-war. There is a real sense of a self-loathing, anxious tension throughout.
The lyrics are complimented by the production, with quiet, building piano in the verses launching into a wall of synths in the chorus that matches his unpredictable nature.
‘Devil in Me’ showcases an even more self-destructive vibe, examining his alcohol abuse that fuels this volatile mindset. VOLTE croons about how he wants to drink so he can knock himself out, and that it will wake up the ‘devil’ incarnation within him.
The ticking percussion and foreboding droning add a beautiful sense of tension to the volatile nature of the track. It feels like VOLTE is on edge, and about to lose it.
However, the final track ‘I Am Not Alone’ is a more low-key affair. Here, VOLTE comes to the conclusion that that he isn’t alone in struggling with his illness, and there people like him who struggle too.
The production choices here are more subtle, with a slight distortion to his voice. However, the outro sees a nice set of acapella vocals complimenting the mantra of the track, which serves as nice ‘human’ moment to bring this nocturnal experience to it’s conclusion.
The one frustration is that it serves as an ideal cliffhanger of this story, leaving you waiting to see what happens next.
While it is frustrating that we will have to wait until next year for the second part of Bipolar, as a first impression, this EP is haunting and brutally beautiful.
VOLTE pulls no punches in his analysis of bipolar disorder, and it serves as a fantastic insight into the fractured nature of mental illness. A highly-recommended listen.
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