By Al Kaufman
With Dancer Equired, the Ohio fuzz-rock trio, New Times Viking, has cleaned up its act. For many in their small but rabid fan base this may not be a good thing, but for Times New Viking it is sure to bring many more ears on board.
After spending time with Matador and Silbreeze, this is the band’s first release for Merge, the label behind Arcade Fire. Opening cut “It’s a Culture” sounds like typical Viking fare. It’s a bit of an artsy song with a certain DIY vibe to it. Beth Murphy and Adam Elliott’s voices don’t always stay in key or mesh. It’s a song that feels like it was mixed in a blender rather than a studio, but the raggedness feels right.
Move onto the next cut, “Ever Falling in Love,” and it is obvious something has changed. The sound is polished and richer, and the voices gibe. The band revels in actually being able to record in an honest to goodness studio for the first time. Knobs are turned with glee, as sounds blossom and bloom. While Elliot’s vocals throughout the CD take on a rougher, whinier tone, Murphy lets her inner pop star out. “No Room to Live” and “California Roll” are great guitar-driven (courtesy of Jared Phillips) power-pop songs. While “Fuck Her Tears” is the perfect blend of garage rock and girl group. Murphy practically has “breakout star” tattooed on her vocal chords.
They get a bit more harsh and industrial with “Ways to Go” and “New Vertical Dwellings,” but it is all ultimately as listenable as it is interesting. It may not be enough to keep the faithful from crying, “sell out,” but with the slew of new fans this CD guarantees, the band may not even notice.
Times New Viking plays the Black Cat in DC on Monday, May 30…
… and The EARL on June 3.