Though his looks and his background are in “goth,” Voltaire’s appeal is nearly universal — the music is fairly straightforward and easy to understand, centered around Voltaire’s acoustic style rather than harsh or ethereal electronic constructs. Truthfully, he sounds more like Jonathan Richman than Peter Murphy. But what makes Voltaire stand out is his dark matte black sense of humor. Boo Hoo is not a happy album — it’s tormented, resigned to documenting the endless struggles between man, woman and universe alongside folksy strumming and the occasional stringed instrument. Even when he’s being funny, Voltaire is deadly serious, and he has the knack of tossing off memorable phrases — “there goes my future ex-girlfriend,” “I’m irresponsible and I don’t care if the whole world burns” — within his carefully cultivated croon.
Boo Hoo has the kind of smirking self-hatred that will get you through many a depression. Voltaire’s world is mean, petty and pointless, but he’s still managing to have a bit of fun. Also, Voltaire is one of those artists whose talents spill out all over the place — check out his Web site for his animation and illustration work, all filled with that unique shadowy smirk.