April came bearing great news for HIM and Ville Valo fans worldwide: under the moniker VV, Ville Valo‘s solo debut album, titled “Neon Noir,” was announced for early 2023. A 2023 European and American tour was also announced with tickets on sale now. To give people a taste of the upcoming music, a new single – “Loveletting – was released. All of this to the delight – and some disdain – of fans of the mighty heartagram.

Before talking about the song, what it has to offer, and why some people are a bit disappointed with it, let’s get a few facts straight. First off, if you thought Ville Valo would do something drastically and completely different from what he’s done with HIM for 25 years, you haven’t really been paying attention. This type of melancholy, at times wistful, love-fueled music is his sonic universe, to which he will stay true not just because it is a familiar realm, but because it is his identity. His past legacy and future songs are forever interconnected here. Secondly, if you skipped his album and tour with AGENTS in 2019 because of whatever reason (with stylistic differences being the main one), you won’t fully understand where this newer sound in his approach to music is coming from. And thirdly, the 2020 EP Gothica Fennica Vol 1 already showcased the new sonic direction he was creating, as the songs are softer and with more ambiance, texture, and nuance and fewer dirty guitars and heavy drums.

Diving a bit more in-depth into the new single, “Loveletting” sits comfortably at the crossroads of HIM and AGENTS, offering beautiful lyrics on the everlasting topic of love, a big chorus that contrasts with the more sedate verses, an intense bridge complete with ’80s ‘-sounding keyboards and repeated lines, and an overall wistful atmosphere that is the driving force of the song. Think of it as a more laid-back version of “Tears on Tape” if you will. The vulnerability and tender singing that was the cornerstone of “Ville Valo and Agents” permeates through every word and every note of “Loveletting,” elevating the emotions and tugging at those heartstrings. The melody in the chorus is simple yet effective, with sustained bass and drums that make it sound fuller and bigger.

Tackling the thing people have a big issue with – “Loveletting” is too soft, delicate, sweet, fragile, and not metal enough to stand toe-to-toe with HIM songs. Yes, it’s all that, but it’s also much more than that. Musically it’s not all that different than such beloved numbers as “When Love and Death Embrace” or “Gone with the Sin,” if you really think about it. It’s a simple, straightforward, and loud love song with a certain amount of ambiance, just like the aforementioned tracks. “Loveletting” just happens to have a happier-sounding melody driving the experience, melody which could be traced back to the likes of “Orpolapsi Kiurun” or even “Paratiisi.”Loveletting” is a really easy song to listen to, and pretty much falls in line with the tracks from “Gothica Fennica Vol 1.” So, if you go from HellDone 2017 straight to “Loveletting,” of course you won’t understand what’s the deal with this song in terms of soundscape and softer singing.

As any artist would tell you, there is more to them than what meets the eye (or the ear, when it comes to music). A solo project is a great way to explore a different side of what a musician has to offer, which is usually somewhat different from their main thing. The same idea applies to VV and Ville Valo’s new approach to music. Sure enough, “Loveletting” is just the first glimpse of “Neon Noir” and the full album will surely hold more surprises for those willing to put prejudices aside and listen to it with an open mind. The video, which showcases the battle between depression and creativity through cleverly used visual metaphors, can be seen below.

Written by Andrea Crow