Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Times New Viking / "Rip It Off"

Look, I have no problem with lo-fi music. "Bee Thousand" remains one of my favorite albums, and I am a big fan of releases by artists such as Pavement, Sebadoh, and Captain Beefheart. I have few reservations about noise music. I'll throw on Sunn O))), Boris, and the Boredoms from time to time. However, Times New Viking completely redefine the terms. The album is packed front-to-back with tape hiss, is mixed louder than Merzbow, and quite frankly has so much going on in each track besides the song that it becomes a major detractor. Long-time fans of the band might be satisfied that they didn't adjust their sound for a larger label, but I feel it is the one aspect that prevents this album from being one of the year's early best.

Songs like "(My Head)" are already brilliant as written and composed. There's no need to turn what could be a brilliant pop song into an exercise in noise rock. Background noise aside, it's a brilliant track reminiscent of "Doolittle"-era the Pixies with powerful, earnest lyrics such as "I need more money cause I need more drugs." That's what this album basically boils down to: a great collection of pop songs inspired by the best artists of the 80's and early-90's (Pavement, the Pixies, Guided by Voices), but unfortunately recorded in a fashion that does the tracks no favor. It's as though the band were performing and it were being recorded outside the building by holding a microphone against the concrete walls of the establishment, then during the mastering they turned the volume as high as possible so that the song itself could be heard. Bootlegs would be embarassed to carry this sound quality.

Try this experiment: listen to a song off Iron and Wine's "Creek Drank the Cradle". Then play this album's "Off the Wall". You'll swear your speakers/headphones are broke. Other people may find this the charm of the band. It really depends on your expectations and preferences as a listener. I just prefer to actually hear the songs on my favorite albums without having to deal with near-nauseating levels of feedback. Who knows, maybe their debut was "Vampire on Titus", this album is "Bee Thousand" (though nowhere near as brilliant), and next they'll clean it up and release their polished "Alien Lanes". At least I hope so, for the sake of both my speakers and my ears.

Rating: 7.0


Josh said...

this shit is awesome

Josh said...

man i really like this album

Kid C said...

Maybe you're a big fan of the feedback levels, but for me if this album were recorded just a little clearer (but by no means polished too much), it would've easily been one of my early favorites for album of the year. The songwriting and musical compositions are both first-rate. As is, that one element just prevents me from fully embracing this album.

Josh said...

yeah i don't understand the lyrics at all but when i crank it wayyyy up and that wave of feedback I JUST CAN'T WAIT TO BE NEAR YOU