Times New Viking
Stay Awake EP
Label: Matador Records
Behind every movement, a few bands stand out as the quintessential sound for their era. Like The Clash and The Saints stood for punk, it can be said that Times New Viking could be our archetypal hipster garage-rockers. In an era that disregards highly produced sounds and expensive gear, the trio blasts out mind-pounding rock that sounds like the shredded plaid shirts they might be wearing. Stay Awake, though just a teaser for what should be their 4th album, stays true to the lo-fi TNV sound.
Stay Awake is complicated. Partially riding on hidden pop hooks, which you have to strain to hear, and partially through its trash and break riffs, the EP is a cohesive unit of dissonance and ennui. “No Sympathy,” the longest song on the album at almost three minutes, is a slightly slowed ballad. With the combined vocals of Adam Elliott and Beth Murphy coinciding throughout the song and a constant rhythm of drums, screeching guitar and keyboard, it’s a depressed and bitter heartache.
Opening track “No Response,” is a full frontal of sound. The three members and respective instruments all blare out at maximum capacity. With impossible to discern lyrics and equally jumbled sounds, this could be Vampire Weekend on their first speedball. “Sick & Tyred” isn’t that different. The most punk song on the EP, it’s a blood curdling race of cymbals played like snares and guitars filling in for crazed metronomes. The obligatory one minute song (’cause they have to have at LEAST one per album) “Hate Hate Hate” speeds past with machine gun drums and the typical vocal dynamic; it’s almost as if TNV loved the sound but didn’t have anywhere else to go with it, so screw it, they called it a song. Not to mention it contains the title lyrics as they sing/talk about staying awake all night.
This atypical EP doesn’t seem to be experimenting with sounds or styles. It just seems to be a five song reminder that there is more to come from TNV after recent success Rip it Off.
by Edmond Stansberry