REVIEW: VV – ‘Neon Noir’

by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

Finnish Love Metal pioneer, Ville Valo (VV) of HIM, will release his debut solo album, ‘Neon Noir’ on January 13th via Heartagram Records, distributed by UMG/ Spinefarm. HIM disbanded in 2017, and as a huge fan of theirs, I was heartbroken, so I was very excited about Ville’s debut album. Fortunately for us HIM fans, this is the perfect bridge between HIM and Ville’s new era of music. We got a taste of Ville’s solo work in 2020 under the VV banner with the EP ‘Gothica Fennica Vol. 1’, which included three Neon Noir tracks. The three previously released songs are also some of the best and most quintessentially HIM-sounding offerings, and hearing the rest of the album, they fit perfectly with the tone and mood.

The opening track, ‘Echolocate Your Love’, immediately showcases Valo’s signature crooning tones that we have all missed. The distorted guitars and melodic keys wonderfully blend in together, balancing the dark and light perfectly and making for a great track to kick off with. It instantly makes you nostalgic for HIM’s music, so it feels like you are re-ignited with an old friend after a long time.

The irresistible ‘Run Away From The Sun’ is a delightful upbeat track with a gothic backdrop and has beautiful melodies and vocals, and is very warming and fuzzy, with a sorrowful edge, the perfect combination.  

The charming title track ‘Neon Noir’ has a tuneful and beautiful intro with a tuneful driving riff that grips you and with more intoxicating deep vocals from Valo in this superb gleaming gloomy offering. This is a good way to describe the song and album as a whole as it’s uplifting yet with a sombre tone running through its veins, and the actual name ‘Neon Noir’ is also the embodiment of the sound.

‘Loveletting’ is one of the most pop-infused lighter tracks but is equally as powerful and features more tender, alluring vocals which leave you hanging upon every word.

‘The Foreverlost’ flows nicely in the same vein and is infectiously catchy with hard-to-resist melodies, pitch-perfect and diverse vocals and a heavier progressive ending.

The sublime ‘Salute the Sanguine’ is intelligible and rich and is one of the most HIM-esque tracks featured. Changing the pace and tone, “Heartful of ghosts” is intriguing, atmospheric, and the most dynamic sounding with unexpected transitions and turns.

“Saturnine Saturnalia” again is another track that could easily have been on an HIM album with heavy riffs and one of heaviest songs featured and is deliciously charming and gothic.

The final offering, “Vertigo Eyes” is an epic lavish closer in sound and length, at nearly eight minutes, and is very diverse and intricate, making for an unexpected but welcome way to end this glorious album.

HIM fans will rejoice at this release as the influence of love metal and HIM vibes is very evident. Still, it just shows that is where Ville’s heart belongs with that sound, but on ‘Neon Noir’ it is more tender and personal in terms of Ville writing and playing every instrument and the more stripped-back sound that emphasises the electronics and shimmers brighter but always with that dark gothic sparkle entwined in magnificent melancholy. It is dreamy, thrilling, and inspiring, and marks a welcome and much-needed return from Ville Valo.

‘Neon Noir’ is out 13th January 2023  via Heartagram Records, distributed by UMG/ Spinefarm.

Ville Valo will kick off touring on the release date, see dates below:


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