Children of Desire

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The lean, no-nonsense attack and baritone crooning found on 2012's Children of Desire might make it seem like Merchandise would be more comfortable in the '80s Manchester scene than in their home stomping grounds of Tampa, Florida. But then, a statement like that is oversimplifying the depth of this record. Over the course of six songs, the trio drifts effortlessly amidst a fog of styles, fusing post-punk, art rock, pop, shoegaze, and other flavors into a grey swirl. The mood is somber and sweet, blending various strains of '80s alternative inspiration and pop jangle with an elegant melancholy. Even though there are only six songs, the highlights are plentiful, be it the excellent shimmering, jingle-jangle melody of "Time," the barroom piano ballad intro of "Satellite," the winding Modern Lovers organ solo of "Become What You Are," or the ethereal 11 minutes of 4AD-inspired reverberated distortion in the stunning closer, "Roser Park." Adjectives like raw, bittersweet, atmospheric, and innovative come to mind, but still, everything about the band suggests that they will stay underground. They have no gimmicks to speak of, they are exceptionally hard to describe (comparisons to the Smiths or the Church only scratch the surface), and they sound more timeless than trendy. Like most cult classics, their songs are more apt to seep in than stand out, and in the spirit of true indie rock, multi-instrumentalists Dave Vassalotti and Carson Cox are more concerned with crafting strong songs than showcasing skills or serving egos. Success may be not be a high priority, but it would be a true shame if Merchandise were to continue to go unknown, since they are on to something very special.

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