Times New Viking | Stay Awake EP (Matador)

cd_times-new-viking.jpgWith the fuzz intact, it becomes a bit of a chore to listen to a full-length LP.







Times New Viking is a relatively new band that balances pop (short songs built around big hooks that deal with "Teenagelust!" (one of the band’s older song titles)) and lo-fi (catchy/fun but amateurish at best musicianship and static, lots of static.) The static present on all of the band’s releases, including their new Stay Awake EP, is a divisive recording choice that makes their LPs sound as if they were recorded by a deaf bootlegger standing outside of a venue during one of the band’s live shows.

Underneath the static are buoyant and occasionally paranoid choruses and lots of instrumental bashing (in the best way possible), which leads me to believe that this band would be killer if they swung just a wee bit more onto the pop side of the equation and recorded their stuff sans fuzz.

This estimation is only reinforced by their static-free live performances which grant clarity to the simple (but not simplistic), repetitive guitar riffs, frantic drums and the occasional rhythmic synth stabs, as well as the vocals. The extra attention/clarity given to the screeched, crooned and chanted boy-girl vocals help the band’s music jump from variations on their emotional but vague "sound" to discernible, approachable songs and themes.

With the fuzz intact, it becomes a bit of a chore to listen to a full-length LP. Even with the lyrics sheet and a decent set of headphones, the songs start to sound homogeneous after a while. The Stay Awake EP offers more the same messy potential, but in short enough bursts to pump the listener up without wearing him down. The EP format really suits the band, so much so that this cheap/easily available EP might be the best place to start for newbies interested in the band. (Their Daytrotter session is also worth checking out to see how they sound live.)

Songs of note on the EP include the giddy, engaging "Call and Response" built around a churning, stunted riff, and the frantic, drum-driven "Hate Hate Hate," which sounds like someone found the lyrics to a Cars B-side and decided to cram them all into 58 seconds. The mid-tempo, Beth Murphy solo vocal "No Sympathy" sounds burnt out and dismissive without losing the melody, and blends neatly into the rest of the running order. B- | Tim Elliott

RIYL: Pavement, The Cars, Guided By Voices

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