Volunteer Department has a deep back catalog of works stretching to at least 2017. The recent singles “Robert Downey, Jr.” and “Shitten” seem to denote a new era for the project. These tracks are clearly related to the prior releases but they contain a tighter production, a clear confidence in their lyrical delivery and some rather intriguing new musical choices.
The brand new single “Cows of Tomorrow” contributes to this new era; embracing a gruff and honest dissatisfaction with the modern world. In speaking with primary songwriter and vocalist Oliver Hopkins about the track, he shared some wonderful insights about the impetus behind the lyrics:
I hope the lyrics add up to form a cautionary tale for those who might too quickly compromise themselves for the sake of adulation, however minor. Getting upvoted on social media blows and is kind of a zero sum game. Achieving recognition for an accomplishment is all well and good but a craven, almost dogged pursuit of “positive reinforcement” from strangers or friends on the internet is no good. Harmful stuff.
Hopkins lyrics are not only accurate but prescient, as the social media platforms themselves are hiding upvoting as a means of social relief. “Harmful stuff” indeed.
The contributions of vocals from Heaven Honey (Jordan Victoria) add another level of darkness to the song, acting as a reminder of how extra harmful validation and feedback towards women can be online. That’s not to say that Internet harm is only binary towards men or women but Victoria’s vocals serve as a reminder that it’s an all inclusive harm.
All told, that sounds like a pretty bleak writeup for a song but, quite frankly, it’s a delight to listen to. The heavy lyrical subject matter is worthy of discussion but the simmering heat of the song itself has an undeniable allure. The vocals interplay with a myriad of well woven instrumentation that begs for repetition to unpeel a new layer on each listen.
Clearly, Volunteer Department doesn’t care what kind of numbers lie beyond the release of the song. That’s a healthy mindset but we suggest putting this one into regular rotation.