Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Times New Viking -- Rip It Off (2008)

Times New Viking -- Rip It Off (Matador)

The latest flyers of the low-fi flag, TNV makes its Matador Records debut, with a number of good songs and intentionally ragged production. It even says on the back cover that this album was "mixed & fucked."

Much like The Jesus & Mary Chain on Psychocandy, Times New Viking writes conventional winsome pop melodies. Then they layer on loads of distorted guitar, with some doodling organ and bashing drums. They certainly aren’t as tight as J&MC, and sometimes you have to wade through the layers of noise to pick out the tune, as on "(my head)".

Like Guided By Voices, the lack of polish gives some of the songs a dream like quality. And songs don’t wear out their welcome, many clocking in at less than 2 minutes.

I have mixed feelings about this disc. There are some winning songs here, particularly when drummer Adam Elliot and keyboardist Beth Murphy sing together. However, a lot of the extremely short songs are undernourished to begin with, and no amount of reverb and overmodulation can mask that.

When it works, it can be extremely effective. On "Faces on Fire", Jared Phillips’s gritty jangle guitar and the loud cymbal splashes make Murphy’s plea, "I can’t hear you" seem a bit more desperate. But this production approach sometimes dulls the potential power of the songs, particularly because the drums, with the exception of the cymbals, are relegated way too far in the back of the mix.

So some of the song here are fine in low-fi, a few would benefit from better production and arrangements, and it wouldn’t make a difference for the rest.

No comments: