Lots of great shows are happening this week, but none merit the attention of Times New Viking's album release show at the Wexner Center. The Feelers and The Ponys kick things off at 9 p.m. sharp. Tickets are $10.
In my preview, I wrote some of my thoughts about Rip It Off, the Columbus trio's debut for storied New York indie rock label Matador. Allow me to share one more.
Much has been made about the way this band reduces rock to a primitive jumble of noise and melody. Musically, this has always clicked for me, but I've never given due attention to the way they pull off the same trick with their lyrics. In retrospect, Present the Paisley Reich's rallying cry of "F--- High Street" is about as simple and straightforward as it gets, but there's still an elementary layer of symbolism in the line, a rejection of main drags everywhere in favor of the hidden treasures in back alleys. The lyric still begs the question, "Why?" Rip It Off and the fuzzed-out nirvana of "(My Head)" eliminate that question for good and fully acheive lyrically what Times New Viking already mastered musically.
The song sticks closely to TNV's M.O. In the tradition of their first noise-pop masterpiece, "Skull Vs. Wizard," the band squeezes every last shred of sonic power and emotional weight from a mere two chords. Thanks to superior mastering, "(My Head)" is louder and nastier than anything they've done before; thanks to superior songwriting, it's more focused and concise. If these three have always sounded like they're in playing the middle of a tornado, those swirling layers of noise sound more severe than ever, just as the harmonic bliss underneath has never been so sweet.
Riding a sing-songy vocal melody that could have been stolen like candy from a baby, verses steamroll over each other into a building wave of distortion. Strangulated guitar solos, overdriven keyboard lines and unrelenting cymbal crashes descend on the song with increasing intensity. Just when it seems like the song might have climaxed too early, the ruckus recedes ever so slightly, just long enough for Adam Elliott and Beth Murphy to deliver what will forever be their signature line:
I need more money 'cause I need more drugs.
The statement is so genuine, so pure, so direct and to-the-point. There's no room for interpretation, no room for questions. It describes their life and nothing more.
Immediately the chaos descends again, the tension finds its release and the song rockets off to a triumphant finish. They may yet write something greater, but everything beautiful about Times New Viking is crystallized in that moment of utter simplicity.