Times New Viking - Dancer Equired

Album cover
Times New Viking
Dancer Equired
Times New Viking - Dancer Equired Review rating:
3
User rating:
Average: 3 (1 vote)

It is nice when things just come together. Yes this is a vague assertion but when applied to specific examples it can take on the character of a relieved expression. Like last year when fuzzed-out Ohio legends Guided By Voices reunited and took to the road once more with fellow reverb-savvy Ohioans Times New Viking in tow. There are few better Master-Apprentice pairings one will find in the realm of lo-fi guitar rock; the direct musical line between these bands is bulbous thick. Each playing an invigorating brand of brazenly distorted indie rock, GBV being the more accomplished innovators and TNV the spirited graduate of their school; things just came together.

This pairing is worth mentioning and more than just a philosophical level, though Robert Pollard was more prolific as well as infinitely more intoxicated at Guided By Voice’s height, TNV has been riding a little hot streak of their own. Pumping out half-hour fifteen-track records of infectious synthy buzz rock the band made it almost look easy. So much that it would not be too rash to count them with the igniters of the lo-fi surf-rock firestorm that has engulfing independent rock music over the past five years. All that aside though Times New Viking were a band who were acting out their homage so damn convincingly you just ignored all of their obvious shortcomings and celebrated their strengths. The vocal chanting, the boy-girl interchanges, the synthy, sludgy mix of trashy play and grimier production all being wretch together by some insane will of purpose—that being: to play fucking rock n’ roll.

Now not to shower some grand image of a deity-like aura surrounding Times New Viking; I would not say they have earned that. But to their credit, they are dedicated to their aesthetic. Dancer Equired, their fifth album in six years, is the first recorded in a proper studio. Not that it does all that much to clean up their sound--about the same supposed improvement from “upgrading” to VHS recording on 2010’s Born Again Revisited—but the girthed production suits them well. Songs like the sublime “California Roll” and “Don’t Go to Liverpool” are better for their clearer guitar tones and burly drums. Along with the high-octane punk of “Fuck Her Tears,” and balanced pace of “No Room To Live” benefiting from the ability to actually hear each instrument separately. Make no mistake they are still making a shit-ton of noise; you can just make out all the pieces now.

This new found comfort in the studio-recording process has its drawbacks as well; though maybe not what one might expect. It is ironic almost that in adopting a more pronounced, complex sound, Times New Viking have directed a spotlight at each and every one of their flaws. So much so that it is becoming harder to simply ignore them. “Try harder!” Jared Phillips and Beth Murphy wail away on a song of the same name with a vague sense of defiance, as almost a lash out at their detractors. Though one would not be faulted for assuming they were simply hurling instructions at themselves. If there is one thing to say about Dance Equired it is that for all of its pleasurable bombast, it is the first time these students of distortion actually sound lost in the buzz. If they chose to push themselves “far” past the one-hundred and twenty second mark—things become a little awkward. A little tired.

Even if Dancer Equired may ring as the first real let down this talented band has released: it is not a half-bad disappointment. You just cannot escape the prevailing aura of fatigue which ends up weighing down the final product from a band who built their reputation on a wealth of energy. Though I would not go so far as to call Times New Viking uninspired as much as dispirited; Dancer Equired comes across as a strangely angry album. "It’s become a culture/escaping the fatigue/takes the place of nothing/makes nothing obsolete" Philips and Murphy lament presumably of their own hipster-helmed generation on “It’s A Culture.” Following up with:"Waiting for the morning/patience is boring/have no doubt we will/surely find something worth ignoring," to close of the album opener. In a candid observation TNV sum up everything great and horrible about their fifth album: while quality they borderline on the stale as we’ve become desensitized to the wonder of lo-fi surf-rock. Or maybe have now become privy to the horrid truth it may not have been all that exceptional in the first place. What is the problem with the whole hypothesis? Dancer Equired does not seem to argue one way or the other. At odds with which side it would rather stand on: that of the trusted veteran or jaded aging artist. Unfortunately this time things did not come together so well.

1. t's a Culture
2. Ever Falling in Love
3. No Room to Live
4. Try Harder
5. California Roll
6. Ways to Go
7. New Vertical Dwellings
8. Downtown Eastern Bloc
9. More Rumours
10. Don't Go To Liverpool
11. Fuck Her Tears
12. Want to Exist
13. Somebody's Slave
14. No Good

Times New Viking is a lo-fi pop band which formed in Columbus, Ohio, United States in 2005. The band consists of Jared Phillips (guitar), Beth Murphy (keyboards, vocals) and Adam Elliott (drums, vocals).

Currently signed to Wichita Records and were formerly signed to Matador Records and Siltbreeze Records. They have released four full-length records: 2005's Dig Yourself, 2007's Present the Paisley Reich, 2008's Rip It Off, and 2009's Born Again Revisited.

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