John Congleton / The Nighty Nite

Until the Horror Goes

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A nervy, sweat-inducing set of manic, hyper-literate electro-pop emissions that are as gloriously melodic as they are relentlessly atonal, the full-length debut from John Congleton and the Nighty Nite is about as far from easy listening as you can get. Congleton, who fronted twitchy post-punk rockers the Paper Chase and has produced albums for the likes of St. Vincent, Mountain Goats, and Strand of Oaks, attempts to dig deep into the human condition on the aptly named Until the Horror Goes. Drawing inspiration from, among other things, "the endless quest for the sublime, uncovering only the inane," Congleton has crafted an exhausting yet compulsively listenable barrage of noisy, skewed pop songs that get under your skin and ultimately lodge in your cerebral cortex -- imagine Xiu Xiu, Frog Eyes, They Might Be Giants, and Sparks collaborating after binging on Scott Walker's The Drift. Throughout the ten-track assault, singsongy melodies are pitted against huge blasts of synth-incited dissonance and strident, stilted percussion. Feisty opener "Animal Rites," which comes off like a twisted, carny-barked rendering of Iggy Pop's "Real Wild Child," offers up the purest example of the formula, while the lurching "Your Temporary Custodian" flips the script with a huge life-affirming chorus surrounded by a sea of sonic discord. Congleton's unhinged vocals add to the visceral nature of the outing, and some fatigue sets in toward the back half, but at just under 40 minutes, Until the Horror Goes is certainly digestible. However, listeners should definitely wait an hour before going swimming.

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