Rip It Off is the third album from this one-girl/two-guys Ohio trio, which buries its simple organ-guitar-drums indie pop under dense layers of lo-fi clamor. The static-y, hissy, trebly, tinny art-noise assault is in a now-longstanding indie-punk tradition that evokes Pussy Galore or, especially, early Pavement (a debt the band has been known to acknowledge in concert via a cover of Pavement's version the Wedding Present song "Box Elder").
In the age of ProTools, sound this bad has to be cultivated and, with Times New Viking, distortion, feedback, and other metal-machine racket are deployed as an intentional sonic element rather than just as a signifier: They worked hard to make their music sound this crappy.
And their work paid off: Sugary hooks fight against the noise, and the noise fights back, giving the tunes toughness and character. The opening "Teen Drama" is a declaration of principles: "Stop staring at things that are just standing still/Get in line, pretty people/We are coming in for the kill," a distorted voice announces over a bed of savage guitar riff and sacramental organ, leading directly into the swooning could-be-love-song refrain of "My Head" ("My head/What you've been doing to my head/I want you to do everything").
And so it goes. The trick keeps repeating but, thankfully, never overstays its welcome. This is a 16-track album that clicks in at just over half an hour with only one track passing the three-minute mark. Mastered at absolutely bludgeoning EQ levels, brevity is its friend.
Is this a studio band, or can this orchestrated noise be reproduced live? You can find out when Times New Viking hits town this weekend. — CH
Times New Viking plays the Hi-Tone Café Sunday, June 22nd, with Final Solutions and the Barbaras. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $8.