Times New Viking
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- Jamboree, Limehouse »
Times New Viking
Times New Viking perform at Jamboree, Limehouse
Photo by simon fernandez
Ever since that bloke from The Kinks got a bit bored with his shitty amp and took a razor blade to it, guitar music changed forever more. 40 years and several hundred thousand distortion pedals later Times New Viking are something like the great-grandchildren of that act of sonic vandalism. The Ohio trio are a band who always sound like something is about to break. Whether it's the drums, the PA or even eardrums it's not important. You are taunted and teased with the question of whether your cochlea or the speaker will explode first.
2008's Rip It Off was perhaps only rivalled that year by the brick-walled mess of a record that was Death Magnetic for “rough-as-sandpaper” qualities, though the latter probably wasn't meant to sound that bad.
One noticeable change live is that the drums actually sound like drums. Although, on second thoughts, you are led to question whether this is actually an illusion – because if you SEE drums you hear them. Either way, they are pretty sparingly used. “This one includes the floor tom” Adam Elliott jokes in between songs. It appears that it's a case of “less talent=more noise” but TNV are better than that. The way they play melody may seem superfluous but this isn't the case. The proclamation that “We're writing a concept album...it's a concept album about the concept of pop songs. This is a pop song.” is evidence enough that TNV don't have contempt for melody rather that it is put on equal standing with the sonic fury that stabs its way out from the other parts of the band.
The introduction of a bass guitar almost feels like sacrilege. The guitar is given to Beth Murphy and she plays it – or attempts to, I can't really see – upside down. It's a beautiful mess where everything merges into one, a less-than-defined sound where overdrive is taken to new highs, the percussion is remedial and surely no more than three notes are played on a keyboard. There could be a misplaced fingers on either keys or frets but would it really matter? Not one bit. The profession of The Critic is often so obsessed with placing things into greater significance – cultural or otherwise – that it doesn't see what is staring them in the face sometimes. Something that is black and white. That is the only part of music which is objective. Sometimes things are just FUN.
The layer of snap, crackle and pop doesn't hide anything, it enhances it. Yes, this is going to hurt your ears if you get too close. Yes, it's a fucking noisy mess at times. No, there's no need for their songs to be more than two minutes. It's fucking abrasive. But what do you expect? How much of a bloody cop-out would it be if Times New Viking toned themselves down? You could turn this down. It'd still be as passable as 70 per cent of anything with a guitar. Beneath all the fuzz, treble and crackle there are melodies and pop principles that you'd have to sing along to if the lyrics were near-intelligible. Instead we make do with singing a mumbling melody.
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