Friday, 31 October 2008

Times New Viking - Rip It Off (Matador 2008)

Times New Viking's debut on Matador, 'Rip It Off', is a noisy scuzzy art-thrash trip through the teenage tribulations of an Ohioan three-piece obsessed with 'Teen Drama' and fitting in versus not bothering. With barely distinguishable lyrics, clattering hi-hats and a distorted guitar distorting the speakers it's playing out of, they are DIY pop-punk enthusiasts with no interest in tidying up their sound for anyone. No retreat no surrender etcera. Sounding like unrefined versions of Pavement and Yo La Tengo, they are hopeful, wide-eyed and immature in quick successful, with hopeful man-woman melodies and an assymetric guitar rumbling along.

Where 'Rip It Off' succeeds in its self-aware unwillingness to sound refined and clean. They make songs, they want us to hear the songs, what does it matter how beautiful and studio-magic they sound if the emotion is there, if it's throbbing with rock-tensity and punk-ibility. This makes an initially difficult listen grow sweeter with each listen, as the melodies and the harmonies start to lift themselves out of the scuzzy mix and you appreciate the textures they are operating on.

Times New Viking's final song is a nod to any comparisons with Yo La Tengo. It's called, amazingly, 'Times New Viking vs Yo La Tengo'. It's a funny, Yo La Tengo-ish romp, showcasing their self-belief and their appreciation for their influences, what came before them and how it shaped them. So many bands wear their influences on their sleeves, but very rarely do they celebrate them in as literal a way as Times New Viking do here. Album highlights include the pleasing 'Teen Drama' and 'Post Teen Drama' bookends, the slightly sardonic 'The Early 80s' and the sombre 'End of All Things.' By the time you hear the joyous conquering noise of finale, 'Post Teen Drama' you will start believing Times New Viking can save lives and punk can cure the blues.

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