TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2009 |
The only thing that could possibly be more ironic than lo-fi music is good lo-fi music. We're not talking the grandfathered lo-fi of bands like Guided By Voices which is, all things considered, far too produced to continue to qualify for the emerging genre. No, we're talking lo-fi saturated with white noise and overpowering guitars. We're talking lo-fi with peaked vocals, garage-style reverb, and muddy lyrics. We're talking lo-fi with keyboard sounds reminiscent of the plastic five-octave Casio I had when I was ten. True, when you add all of these qualities together you should end up with something that sounds painful at the very least. Yet Times New Viking has, with their fourth full-length record Born Again Revisited, successfully turned audible agony into an unlikely pleasure.
Delivering nearly an album per year since their launch in 2005, TNV continues to be a driving force behind a muddled and confused lo-fi "noise rock" genre. With undertones of Sex Pistols-era punk rock as well as the modern blear of indie-pop, both treated with the overpowering, genre-signature gain, TNV once again offers a sound which is somehow hypnotic while just barely crossing the threshold from noise to music.
But the question remains as to whether or not Times New Viking will stay on the grungier end of lo-fi noise rock. After all, nearly half of the lyrics on Born Again Revisited are both coherent and understandable characteristics absent from their first album, yet increasingly apparent on subsequent records. And as they continue to fall away from the hard rocking punk sounds of 2007's The Paisley Reich and into a lower-key foundation of indie sound, the band may find it difficult, if not undesirable, to keep the gain turned up so high.
When it all comes down, Times New Viking deserves mad props for victoriously walking the line between musical evolution and sticking to their guns. In a genre that can be as annoying as it can mesmerizing, Born Again Revisited smacks of a job as well done as its unfortunate nature allows. After all, it's mostly just noise.