Way back in 2010, Milwaukee gypsy-folk outfit The Vitrolum Republic came onto the scene with the then-trio’s debut full-length, For Highbrow Sideshows And Rowboat Serenades, a 14-song introduction rife with emotive strings, acoustic guitar, and piano waltzes. Not counting a 2012 Cream City Session, which featured live versions of primarily old material, and video shot in a Bay View hat shop last year, The Vitrolum Republic had subsided from the stage and ventured into the studio to expand upon its encouraging first record. With a new member, 10 new songs, and fully-realized arrangements conveyed by adept instrumentation, they’ve made a record few Wisconsin bands would think to make and even fewer could pull off.
“Dom Pravotchka” is a deceiving opening For The Lovespun Ramblings And Ghosts In Our Shoes volley, with its hastened tempo and almost zydeco implementation of accordion, violin, and upbeat auxiliary percussion. However, the rowdy beginner quickly gives way to a subsequent string of slow numbers that are as gorgeous as they are devastating. “Show & Tell” and “Lady Of Stone” (among others) manage to incorporate lush and quasi-classical string arrangements with barren acoustic strumming, and splashy minimalist percussion. The four-piece’s supplies an abbreviated symphony with 11 different instruments employed on the record between them. Not counted among those is Jordan Waraksa, whose voice soars above the rich instrumental mix in most efforts—the barren and beautiful “Pause” paramount among them—and fills any gaps with alternating falsetto and force.
At a time with infinite sub-genres featuring the word “rock” and most folk acts congealing in an overused mold of contrived themes, it’s refreshing when a band like The Vitrolum Republic can push elements of folk down an unfamiliar path, heap in classical influence, and project it through an indie rock lens to forge something you won’t hear anywhere else in Milwaukee, and something that’s well worth the four years it took to arrive.
The Vitrolum Republic will release For The Lovespun Ramblings And Ghosts In Our Shoes digitally on October 9. The band will plays an album release show with Grasping At Straws at Company Brewing on November 6.