"Drop-Out" by Times New Viking
It's funny that digital home recording has progressed to the point where a deliberately lo-fi band like Times New Viking—whose static-laden salvos Dig Yourself and The Paisley Reich landed the group a high-profile deal with Matador last year—can be embraced as "reactionary." Whether viewed as a gimmick or a genuine philosophy, TNV's gritty aesthetic got it here, and even with the backing of a major "independent" label, the band hasn't changed a whit for Rip It Off. As with previous releases, "lo-fi" doesn't begin to describe Rip It Off's tinny, trebly mess of sound—it's like listening to a third-generation dub of a demo recorded on a boombox held together with duct tape. But like angels with dirty faces, the songs hide classically catchy melodies beneath their grime: It's obvious what the former home of Robert Pollard sees in the slightly warped '60s pop of "Drop Out" and "Another Day," for example. Still, in spite of a brief running time that's heavier on hits than misses, ear-bleeding brat-punk screeds like "RIP Allegory" prove to be a real challenge on repeat, and the relentless distortion is so overwhelming that when the near-closer "End Of All Things" drops into its acoustic coda, the most immediate feeling is relief.