Music Reviews
Dancer Equired

Times New Viking Dancer Equired

(Merge) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

Remember 2008? In today’s genre driven music landscape (we’re partly to blame, of course), the lo-fi resurrection of three years ago feels as antiquated as the Fertility Icon. Being curious archeologists by nature, we believe that any neglected format that springs back to our consciousness needs to be resurrected for the sake of posing as that year’s model. Of all possible recording techniques, low fidelity is the most romanticized – this notion of evoking the spirit of an age many didn’t even live automatically renders you as the knowledgeable one in the block. Now, they crawl in droves; if you need further proof, there wasn’t even one Ronettes vinyl under the oldies section of my local record shop.

In all fairness, Times New Viking became shitgaze trailblazers simply because they scored the hottest indie label in town. The Ohio natives’ motives were even suitable – I believed the small town mythology they told about becoming pretentious in the eyes of their local compatriots after the gritty nature of New York City supposedly corrupted their origins. Since there wasn’t anything inherently interesting about the band, at least they were well versed and snarky enough to hold an interview instead of trying to master the art of self-abjection (see: Ariel Pink). The former art students were smart enough to sustain their beliefs, so it was understandable to hear them speak about their desired sound on a more rational basis.

So, the myth was clarified: these young folks were dead serious about their lo-fi. But after keeping at it for two years, they’ve decided to record at a studio for the first time. Which begs the question: why vociferate your principles for so long if you knew you were going to get bored with it. This was the same band that even made me forget that the ear drumming buzz of Rip It Off sounds worse than what actual cassette hiss actually sounds like. Presumably, Times New Viking is at a point where they’ve gained enough security to finally throw out those VHS and cassette tapes into the dumpsters. To rephrase Jackson Pollock, the aesthetic always was “just to make noise”.

Dancer Equired does well in splashing waves of noisy dissonance into an otherwise empty canvass. Upgrading from basement to garage,  It’s A Culture goes into an expected call-and-response of organ effects and amplified distortion. With a cleaner production, their hooks are in plain scope, which automatically demands stronger songwriting. Ever Falling In Love and Don’t Go To Liverpool fit the bill, maintaining a crunchy balance of inventive chord progressions instead of lambasting a sugar rush of hooks. Fuck Her Tears is their habitual crowd pleaser, a fast, cavorting sing-a-long that proves they have the chops to flaunt their songwriting prowess without resorting to conceal it.

Even with these new tricks, Times New Viking still can’t find a way to repair some of their recurring missteps. The short bursts of indifference between songs, like in New Vertical Dwellings and More Rumors, instantly leave a sour patch of disservice to their most competent songs. It’s as if they feel fine reclining on past noise tendencies and half assed guitar tuning to emphasize some unnecessary rebellion. The bands already shows much pride in their dreadful vocal abilities, so there’s no need no reinforce even more ugly when the production already sounds ugly enough.

Dancer Equired trounces for thirty minutes in the same formulaic way as before: one-note exuberance, monotone instrumentation, and washed out pop hooks. Granted, it features some of their strongest songs to date, but it's not enough to salvage the exhaustive, pouring reverberation. Wearing dissonance with pride helps them half of the time, but their failure to grow up from their established parameters is fast becoming an issue. They still have the oomph to carry an audience, but why does the mastered production leave a dry aftertaste? Therein lies the problem with Dancer Equired - what once was a pragmatic band, with a purpose that was vocalized smarter than the others, is now vetoing their own motto with a different slant. If they don’t care, then why should I?