Turning down the volume slightly is probably a good shout once in a while. I like noisy, abrasive indie-rock as much as the next Pavement fan, but, with certain bands, once you’ve got past the bristling enthusiasm and disregard for conventional (or is that over-elaborate?) production, there isn’t much evidence of the intriguing melodies that Steve Malkmus and Company perfected so well. Times New Viking have so far been thriving on their raw energy and punk-inspired ethos, but since moving from Matador to Merge, it seems that the band are keen on turning the distortion knob a little to the left, leaving their skills as song-writers frighteningly exposed.
On Dancer Equired it’s clear that, although Times New Viking haven’t drastically changed their set-up or sound, they are eager to increase the clarity of their output. Where previous songs such as ‘(My Head)’ or ‘Born Again Revisited’ revelled in noisy 1970s New York punk and The Velvet Underground style severity, this is a collection of songs which are slightly more in focus with noise-pop of the 21st Century. Unfortunately, by aiming to create an album less “out there” and more in line with contemporary bands such as Wavves, the band has lost a little bit of their previous uniqueness.
Whizzing through 14 songs in just over half an hour, Dancer Equired is an album of youthful disrespect; foul-mouthed, terrible posture and a sloppy work ethic. With the band being content outsiders, as a unit they have become stronger, forging an almost romantic relationship with one another; ‘Ever Falling In Love’ is the sound of two people expressing their wild love for each other, whilst trying to remain impassively cool at the same time.
Apart from the melodic synth parts on ‘Ways To Go’, ‘Don’t Go To Liverpool’ and ‘Fuck Her Tears’, the album offers little instrumental variation with crunchy guitars and Slanted And Enchanted style ‘cardboard boxes for drums’ prevailing for much of the album. Regrettably, Dancer Equired is guilty of being rather single paced, a fairly innocuous jogging speed; the album never sprints and only once breaks into a meandering stroll with the chugging, descending chords of ‘Want To Exist’.
Ardent fans of the band may be pleased to know that Times New Viking are finally changing their course towards a clearer, less frantic future, but after listening to Dancer Equired you might just find yourself yearning for that little bit more irritable angst and edginess with indebted their previous work with a powerful intensity. The song ‘Try Harder’ sums up this effort, an instruction aimed at both the listener and the band itself; if you want to fully appreciate the message behind Dancer Equired, then you’ll have to listen quite attentively, however if the band wish for new fans take notice, then they themselves will have to act with less apathy and try harder.
Released on 25th April 2011 by Wichita Recordings