Times New Viking

Dancer Equired!

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Times New Viking had a pretty good gimmick going throughout their first seven years together. On their albums and singles, they took their songs and recorded them in a way that can only be described as cruddy. Recorded at the bottom of a swimming pool on a Fisher-Price cassette player cruddy. Accidentally dropped the masters in a vat of old greasy crud. It was actually a pretty great gimmick though; fighting through the noise to extract the melodies, words, and instruments made for a fun challenge and the records always had a thrilling kind of energy. Still, they had been doing it for a long time and for their 2011 album, Dancer Equired!, Times New Viking decided to make a change and headed into a “real” studio, which meant forgoing the usual speaker-shredding noise and hiss. Instead, they got a sound that is more subtle, cleaner, and easier to listen to. Unlike many noise bands that have gone the same route, only to reveal that underneath the noise they were kind of boring, Times New Viking actually sound better this way. There is still plenty of noise, tape dropout, and hiss left over from the past, but being able to hear the interplay between the guitars (and organ), being able to discern the words, and hearing Beth Murphy's lovely voice cut through clearly for a change are all good things. It also helps that the bandmembers wrote some of their best songs for the record. Mostly midtempo and somewhat melancholy tracks like "Try Harder" and "Want to Exist" dominate the album, but there are a few raging rockers like "Fuck Her Tears" (the obvious radio single!) and "It’s a Culture" to balance them out. So even though the mood of the record can be a little blue at times, the energy and commitment that the band displays keep things from flagging. Even the slowest and calmest of the songs have a feverish core that can’t be denied. Times New Viking have done something quite amazing here; it’s quite rare for a band to change its long-term sound without losing what made it special in the first place. For a band to make that change and end up sounding even better is almost a miracle. Dancer Equired! should be required listening for any band looking to grow its brand in new ways without losing its core audience -- and also for those who like their pop dirty, sweet, and fairly audible.

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