Infinity Crush - Virtual Heaven (Cover Artwork)

Infinity Crush

Virtual Heaven (2019)

Joy Void

So, yes, Virtual Heaven is lush. It’s down-comforter-on-a-winter-day warm, easy to sink into, easy to wrap yourself around. Call it by any name – indie pop, dream folk, bedroom – its effect is the same. It’s an intimate, close record about one specific intimate, close thing; romantic obsession.

What’s interesting is trying to divine what Infinity Crush really things of romantic obsession. At times, it plays like an ode to self-obliteration; elsewhere it makes the case that slow romantic poison is a knife that can only cut one way, when wielded correctly. Is the artist being coy? Is the indecision, the shifting in perspective, a part of the larger message? Is the answer that there isn’t an answer, because when one is old enough to fuck but not yet old enough to understand what it means, these are the kinds of poles one inevitably gravitates towards?

Let’s scale it back for a second. What we’re dealing with are 13 songs of strummy, reverb’d guitar, sung as if you’re sitting across from Infinity Crush (government name: Caroline White) on a shitty twin bed in your first post-college apartment. Promo materials note that this is the artist’s first time recording in a proper studio, and while that results in subtle dynamics and additional textures (peep the violin on “Pink Moon,” which hits like a shock in the context of the album), the end product feels as intimate as it would if it were recorded on a four-track. Think early Snail Mail or Elvis Depressley and you’re on the right track.

White has an effective, if perhaps limited voice. What the record lacks in melodic creativity, it makes up for in sharp editing. Some of the album’s best songs (“Drive Thru,” “Lunar Pool,” “Haze”) come and go in under two minutes, giving them a fleeting quality that makes you want to hear them right after they end. Let us also acknowledge the songs “Virtual Heaven,” “Through the Ashes,” and “Prophet;” these three songs are the only three on the record that aren’t explicitly concerned with the emotional manipulation that is part and parcel of people using each other for sex (they’re about the apocalypse, which is also, in its own way, about romantic obsession, so it isn’t like they don’t fit. Besides, the earth is melting. Perhaps you’ve heard).

Back to the notion of obsession. A close read on the album’s lyrics supports what’s apparent in the dreamy, sensual texture of Virtual Heaven. This is an album about the lusty, unhealthy infatuations that can form between people in a post-adolescent, pre-adult existence. Its songs are set in bedrooms, in the seats of cars, at fast-food restaurants, tangled between bodies. People are colliding, and it captures the thrill and regret of those collisions. If you happen to find yourself in a throws of an overblown, possibility toxic crush, these songs might play like medicine. Find its wavelength, and Virtual Heaven captures what it feels like to be consumed by someone, to try and free oneself from that consumption. It’s a record about passion and revulsion, and little else. It’s not a healthy place to be, but it feels real and realized.