Times New Viking - Rip It Off

Gareth Lloyd 04/05/2008

Rating: 4/5

Shitgaze shitgaze shitgaze: there we go, there's that out the way. I wanted to get through this review without reference to that particular tenuous bit of genre frippery, but.. well, elephants in the room and all that.

Rip It Off sounds ugly. Amazingly so. The first things to hit are the bee-in-a-jam-jar guitars, closely followed by those layers of distorted, mid-toned vocals. I don't even know where the drums are; out in the garden shed from the sound of it. Any worries that the band might have toned down the abraisive, lo-fi aesthetic on the Matador label are out the window by the time second track "My Head" has hit its stride: bubblegum melodies swept under great swathes of white noise.

That the band have managed to stick to their lo-fi M.O. is impressive, if occasionally frustrating. There are times when it feels like something of an effort to actual train the ears to cut through the fuzzied-up, ear-crushing carapace to feast on the gooey pop goodness within. I'll admit that I was reaching for the EQ settings a couple of tracks in; I dread to think what a pair of laptop speakers would do to the opening of "Come Together."

Is this an obtuse record? Maybe so; it's hard to think that the band would have wanted it to sound any other way. But if Rip It Off had been studio spit-shined, all bit-crushed FX and dance-floor-friendly, who's to say whether these 16 tracks would have been so stuffed with enthusiasm and manic glee? Because while the aural assault is brutal, there's a cheery sweetness to the songwriting throughout that's completely irresistible. Still, though: would a 'listen responsibly' sticker on the front would be

Out Now.