The all encompassing underground meta-buzz that has long surrounded Times New Viking has calcified into a deal with Matador Records; a deal that came about amid the same kind of mythology that’s driven the band since their inception. The oft’ embellished story of their demo leading to the revival of Siltbreeze Records is now joined by the tale of a battle between Sub Pop and Matador to sign the trio. The latter “mega-indie” came out on top and won the right to introduce the Coasts to an entire scene of noisy Ohioan rock acts.
With Rip it Off, Times New Viking continue to do what they’ve been doing for the last two or three years, delivering noise-coated pop pills with a varied affect on the mind of the listener. Some hear Guided by Voices played through a broken speaker and point to the band’s ascendance as another part of a renaissance in early-’90s indie-revival. Others hear the stripped-down shrieks of No Wave noise wrapped around infectious rock and roll centers, leading music writers to attach the “art-damaged” adjective to the band with near ubiquity. Nothing has changed on Rip it Off; Times New Viking continue to write cathartic pop songs played with absolute disregard for peaking out recording equipment.
Emotive climaxes drive Rip it Off, and make for the disc’s most resonant songs. “My Head,” filled with barely audible-references to (what may be) pervasively adolescent confusion, the song sounds like an anti-romantic romance, the chiming squeals and blaring harmonies twice building up to a paradoxical release in a few bars of unaccompanied vocals delivered with flat, jittery sentimentality. “Drop-Out,” “Faces on Fire” and “The Apt.” are lo-fi nuggets with huge choruses, blared-out sing-a-longs that fade out as quickly as they come on. In Rip it Off’s more a-melodic and darker moments, such as the dirge of “Relevant: Now,” the envelope of noise takes on extra depth, adding another layer of meaning to a chaotic track. However, when TNV go dissonant, they don’t necessarily pack the punch of their poppier songs.
For the far majority of Rip it Off, though, the disc is – like Times New Viking’s earlier DIY catalog – both consistently catchy and prone to induce screaming bouts of tinnitus. With Matador’s backing and the accompanying hype juggernaut, TNV’s slovenly sounds will no doubt be introduced to a crowd that extends far beyond their existing, experimentally-minded fanbase. Perhaps even more exciting than TNV’s fairly-mainstream debut is what it will mean for Pink Reason, Psychedelic Horseshit, and the rest of the crop of bands writing rock music this noisy.