Album review: VV – Neon Noir

Straight-to-the-heart solo return from Ville Valo, frontman of dearly departed Finnish stars HIM…

Album review: VV – Neon Noir
Steve Beebee

When HIM played their last-ever show on the last day of 2017, it didn’t feel like one of those temporary farewells. It wasn’t an endlessly recurring KISS-style adieu; it was more like a funeral, albeit one of hearts. The first music from frontman Ville Valo’s solo debut (dubbed VV) emerged at the start of 2020 – just before the world closed down, sending Ville and his deliciously dark sounds once more into lockdown.

Neon Noir is finally upon us, and from the perspective of anyone who has enjoyed HIM’s music, it’s been worth every day of that long wait. It travels that same divinely flowered bridge spanning heavy and cosy; that oh-so-individual thing that somehow made darkness look sexy rather than scary. It’s everywhere – from Run Away From The Sun’s tuneful beauty, to the weightier Salute The Sanguine, and the poppier but no less evocative The Foreverlost and Loveletting. The title-track beds in with shades of HIM classic Wings Of A Butterfly, but also boasts the widescreen production you might expect on a Nightwish album. ‘Come love me till it hurts,’ the frontman purrs in the chorus.

Only a sheen of electronics, an extra brush of studio paint, separates this fine comeback from the sounds of a HIM album. If someone told you it was in fact an unreleased album from the latter, you wouldn’t give them a weird look. It’s got the same depth, power and beauty, drawing at least parallels. Neon Noir’s superb deep dig of a closer, Vertigo Eyes, will not be confused for Love’s Requiem – which ended 2003’s epochal Love Metal album – but its epic climax certainly bears comparison to that fine song’s denouement.

If you’ve been seduced in Mr Valo’s musical twilight before, then you can now prepare to pulse in the glow of the heartagram once again.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: HIM, Ghost, Evanescence

Neon Noir is released on January 13 via Spinefarm

Read this: Ville Valo: “It’s a continuation of what I’ve done in the past and what might happen next”

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