Cheap Time

We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.

Album: Wallpaper Music by Cheap Time (out now on In The Red)

Press play if you like: A spring in your step, a sneer on your lips, and a hook (or 20) sunk deep in your brain.

Some background: Jeffrey Novak is a little disoriented. Since 2006, the Tennessee-based singer-guitarist-keyboardist has fronted Cheap Time, an upbeat, unhinged, constantly mutating outfit that seems to think the year is 1978 and Nashville is a suburb of London. Cheap Time's latest album, Wallpaper Music, occupies and freezes that fleeting moment when the ’77 punk explosion collapsed into a quirky, dorky free-for-all of noise and color—but had yet to cool into the more reserved tones of post-punk. That’s not as narrow a niche as it might sound, though. Harnessing everything from chugging rock ’n’ roll riffs and burping synths to Rezillos-like snarls and nods to the Roxy Music, Wallpaper is anything but background music. “Another Time” spits and jitters with anachronistic glee; with its refrain of “You’re living in another time / You’re living in another world,” it might as well be Novak’s manifesto. “Take It If You Want It” sports violent acoustic strumming and the world’s shittiest recorder solo (which is really something of an accomplishment). And the apple-tart double entendre of “Typically Strange” only adds to its pounding, Stranglers-inspired horniness.

Try this: Wallpaper Music’s opening track, “More Cigarettes,” is a robotic power-pop anthem that might as well be the second cousin of Plastic Bertrand’s new-wave classic, “Ca Plane Pour Moi.” Amid two-fisted piano and contorted guitar leads, Novak blows his snotty vocals through wads of echo. As messy as they are, though, the song’s charms are effusive, infectious, and full of bratty swagger.

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