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Times New Viking
Born Again Revisited Noel Gardner , September 23rd, 2009 06:33

It's safe to assume that Times New Viking do not care to use their burgeoning profile as a springboard to musical advancement, but would rather devolve into overgrown cornfields of abrasion and abstraction. Whether inspired by in-built indie guilt or a schoolboy-like glee in pissing off the mild-mannered — or both — on Born Again Revisited they achieve their goal with flying colours. One is tempted to call it the In Utero to Rip It Off's Nevermind: mainly to imagine the looks on their faces, but also to hammer the point home for anyone who is aware of what Rip It Off sounds like. Sonic Youth going from Dirty to Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star sort of resonates, too, but they'd had plenty 'nuff people on their jock for a decade by then. It's doubtful that 1994 saw some guy telling Thurston Moore: "You know, pal, you lot make a bloody racket, but I can hear a few tunes in there — you should think about getting in a proper studio sometime."

But what if our hypothetical friend's well-intentioned suggestion was directed at one or all of Adam Elliott, Beth Murphy and Jared Phillips, who together make Columbus, Ohio's Times New Viking? He might be missing the point — the trio have made it plain that they like the way it comes out — but equally, he might HAVE a point. Back in the day (2005) when TNV launched their debut album, Dig Yourself, their approach was OK: it sounded like an homage to the hordes of light-shunning, noise-scene guitar grufflers of the type that the label it came out on — Siltbreeze — specialised in. Now, though, they're on one of The Big Indie Labels — Matador — and with that comes an influx of curious Georges dropping paper-round money on their CDs 'cos it sounds like it'll be a bit different and OW OW OH WHERE'S THE EARPHONE SOCKET oh ah that's better.

The casual ease with which this band have infuriated indie's simpering faction is something to behold. 'Epic' by Faith No More could have been written about the tunes on a TNV record, so maddeningly evasive are they thanks to the shitstorm of Tascam-fidelity fuzz. (At one ATP, a young indie fan watched half an hour of this group and then fruitlessly played the magnetic 2p machine in the arcade, causing him to go on an enraged stabbing spree. The press department hushed it up pretty well.) Like I say, the songs on here — 15 in 30 minutes, about on par with previous full-lengths — are pretty akin to the carefree rattles of life on Rip It Off, but even more stereofucked.

'Martin Luther King Day' is a solid opener, if not wholly representative: Beth Murphy's wheezy jabs of keyboard underpin a crafty nugget of dark art from the mildly gothic end of post-punk (the guitar actually sounds a bit like Big Black's 'Bad Penny'). You sense the tang of comedy on 'I Smell Bubblegum', but proceedings are so muffled that Elliott seems to be singing "Ahh Smurr Babbagaaa"; it also sounds like it was conceived in the mid-90s and released on cassette by the no-really-you-have-an-internet-look-it-up label Wheelchair Full Of Old Men. There are other songs on the album that are as short and as puerile as this one.

'These Days', notwithstanding the dying-electrical-appliance squeal running through its duration, sees Beth take the vocal reins and is a fairly pretty ditty, at least if you can find beauty in the Vivian Girls or the Shop Assistants or Free Kitten. ('Take The Piss', the album's closing song, also comes correct with Murphy vox, albeit ones shrilly hollered in the manner of the finest riot grrrl earbleeders; the whole lasts just over 30 seconds.) They do not paint using a vast palette, this lot, but they do make a very good argument for musical Stuckism, and always give the impression that things have emerged just as they wanted them to.

It's a beautiful boggler, the notion that someone somewhere is releasing this and, presumably, at some point giving thought to how many thousands of copies it might sell. Times New Viking might well come out the other side scratching their skulls and wondering why Matador mandarins aren't phoning them late at night, yelling at them for their corporation-defying insolence. Maybe it really is like In Utero (albeit on a much smaller scale) in that the genie is out of the bottle and a guaranteed core of peeps will buy it and like it, damn it.

Hold up, though! I've got a better dorky analogy; our man with the recording advice might like this one. Most of the rest of modern indie-rock in 2009 is Cream, right, and Times New Viking are Blue Cheer. They could pay polite homage to the source if they wanted, but they're rotten little bastards.