Times New Viking

Present the Paisley Reich

(Siltbreeze; 2007)

By Alan Baban | 13 January 2008

Some music just sounds bad. This is not a particularly new or original assessment; music, I'm starting to gather, is a pretty hot topic. People like music. A fair few of those people have already come to conclusions on Times New Viking and their "bad-sounding" new record: it's solid, a good sound. So good that the same tired twelve sentences have been re-re-recombined in twenty or thirty blogs as to render them all genre redundant and prematurely old-hat. The stuff Shakespeare already thunk. This is not going to be a particularly new or original assessment.

Blame Times New Viking: both the best and worst things that can be said about Paisley Reich is its insistent, lo-fi clusterfuck of noise. "Imagine Dead John Lennon" blasts into an industrial haemorrhage before ripping straight into post-whatever aggro-folk. Let's make no bones about it: the recording is trashcan defiled and sewer-soaked, the instruments bleeding in and out of the feedback miasma. Everything is loud. Everything is errant. Everything is in the red. It's a testament to the band, then, that a) they achieve major indie nous out of the cockeyed muck (hell, dudes recently signed to Matador) and that b) they build the compromised and contaminated sound into a kind of coy selling point. Because there are brilliant melodic nuggets here, they're just buried beneath five layers of piss and static. The roving riff of "New Times, New Hope" taps into some proto-Townshend waywardness, before being circuitously complemented by an unbending keyboard hitting the same fucksure hard-nosed tones, the same attitude-loaded gang-mentality tearing cleavage and allsorts through the rest of the record. "Little Amps" micromanages the noise cleverly, and summer anthem tropes are sought and destroyed on the infectious "Let Your Hair Grow Long," but where Paisley Reich ultimately and most importantly succeeds is that it is first and foremost not a chore to sit in on. Where Times New Viking differ from their noise counterparts is their tantamount embrace of song as fun. Which is good to know.

Much of Paisley Reich acts as guilt-free “moment” music. The white noise blitz-kicks are reductive: the songs seem to leap out of the buried muck in various states of epiphany and torment. Standout "Teenage Lust!" is perhaps the best emblem of this shit-kicking ruckus. It starts with two off-timed drum-kicks married to a slow buzz of meandering guitar before the whole thing defibrillates into a state of emergency and a sense of purpose, the coruscating wails of "I don't want to die" closing in on each other for the grand chorus of "I don't want to die -- in the city alone!" It's a "no shit" sentiment, and despite the riotous sense of being live and kicking, of a band moving forward and grasping at the limits of its identity, tracks like "Love Your Daughters" eschew surface ironies to deal in sharp home truths, the disarming sense that limits and rules and restrictive dictums command their own sense of free latitude and margin enfranchisement. The imaginative contours between two points is, after all, wholly subjective, and the terrain Times New Viking cover here, for all its apparent brevity and the odd throwaway number ("Allegory Gets Me Hot".), is dense and packed with inspiration. They make a good sound.