Words: Simon Opie
A bit like their name, the Ohio trio Times New Viking are so lo-fi that it’s very hard to fathom if they’re innovators or jokers. Slight melodies, repetitious lyrics and rough sound quality characterised their output to date – in a good way, of course.
Their previous two albums on Matador – 2008’s 'Rip It Off' and 2009’s 'Born Again Revisited' – were each 30 minute slabs of noisy hustle, with some great moments such as 'Teen Spirit In Hell' which must qualify as maybe the slowest song of all time and 'Drop-out' which is perhaps the perfect one minute and five seconds post-punk pop song.
This new album represents a bit of a clean-up and a tone-down to their style and the change of direction is not necessarily without risk – because it’s pretty clear that now they wish to be taken seriously. Judging by the video for the lead-off single 'No Room To Live' - made by an unbelievably meticulous process with around forty artists printing each frame from real video then hand drawing, colouring or decorating (nearly 3,000 of them) and putting them back together - at least 40 artists take them very seriously indeed. The result is pretty cool, too.
Overall, I’m not entirely convinced by the move to a somewhat New American Folk influenced song style, as once the post-punk is taken down, the limited musical structures tend to almost monotony and a drone-like quality. That’s not to say there aren’t some nice tunes – 'Don’t Go To Liverpool', 'Want To Exist' and the excellent 'Fuck Her Tears' (which bears a striking resemblance to the afore-mentioned 'Drop-out') comprise a purple patch towards the end of the tracklist, and 'California Roll' is a terrific song.
Seemingly Times New Viking has taken a turn from Sonic Youth to Velvet Underground and if it’s to prove a fruitful avenue then I’d suggest a widening of musical horizons is necessary to stimulate the creative flow - 'Dancer Equired' is an album of transition and just now the outcome seems finely balanced.
DOWNLOAD: Times New Viking - No Room to Live by MergeRecords
DOWNLOAD: Times New Viking - Fuck Her Tears by Wichita Recordings
'Dancer Equired' is available to purchase at your local retailer, amazon.co.uk, iTunes etc.