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Times New Viking - Born Again Revisited

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Artist: Times New Viking

Album: Born Again Revisited

Label: Matador

Review date: Sep. 22, 2009

Times New Viking has never been short on dubious titles, but never has any fit better than Born Again Revisited. A few years back, when they were just one of a few garaged noisemakers playing loud enough to wake the dead, and even capable of resurrecting a label that runs on this kind of thing, they might’ve been able to get away with it. But the KBD/Nuggets/Bloodstains business as usual for Times New Viking is now business as usual, period. And without a new shtick to run with, these guys are stuck in the middle of the pack.

There’s a certain point where ineptitude loses its charm. Claims of purposeful intent aside, it sounds like the ideas and the skill level are running out. The tuneless trainwreck on “(No) Sympathy” is typical of most of these songs, to varying degrees. There’s also the off-key love song of “These Days” and the self-sabotage on “2/11 Don’t Forget” that refuses to let any melody just be. All these songs tinker with some damaged form of traditional pop and rock and roll structures, but without any attempt at meaningful subversion. The band revels in dissonance without any real end goal. It just seems like that’s the easiest, most natural state to be in.

What makes this all frustrating, instead of a lost cause, is that when they get their shit together, Times New Viking write some really good songs. When the band moves synchronously instead of grinding against each other on the opening shot of “Martin Luther King Day,” it works great. And a couple minutes later, Adam Elliott and Beth Murphy more or less perfect the call-and-response on “City on Drugs” that got things off to such a promising start. They show that they can write sloppy songs with real hooks and something to bop along to. Something that rarely happens thereafter, unfortunately.

For a band with more than a few records under their belt, it’s surprising just how unsurprising this record is. If it’s just a rehash of the same tongue-in-cheekiness and self-destructive tendencies that you’re looking for, then yeah, you probably won’t be too disappointed. But at this point, we get it. You think sounding bad can be a good thing. It’s just not enough to even make me pay attention anymore.

Which is funny, because they sound their best on the almost-conventional indie rock “Move to California.” After that, the album closes with one last parting shot, a thirty-seven second punky throwaway called “Take the Piss.” That’s as fitting an ending as anything I could think up myself.

By Evan Hanlon

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