Times New Viking are one of those bands people either adored or despised in 2008, the year their Matador debut Rip It Off hit stores and rocketed up the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The album's fuzzy, lo-fi sound reminded some of Guided By Voices' best stuff, while others dismissed the band's juggernaut of feedback as an imitation of the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy.
However, what the Columbus, Ohio, trio buried beneath the layers of feedback was different from the submerged treasures of these other bands. While many of Psychocandy's songs distorted 1960s-style pop melodies, Times New Viking fuzzed up post-punk-style vocalizing and added a bit of punk-rock attitude. Rip It Off tracks like "RIP Allegory" and "Relevant: Now" summon listeners' aggressive tendencies.
On their newest album, 2009's Born Again Revisited, Times New Viking sound even more like the Jesus and Mary Chain, and even the Velvet Underground. Organs and keyboards provide more warmth than chaos this time around, but the guitars still sound like buzzsaws and lawnmowers. They're just quieter buzzsaws and lawnmowers.
And as the band turns the feedback down a couple of notches, it moves the melodies to the front. "No Time, No Hope" sounds like a Guided By Voices session with Lou Reed, and the melodies in the garage-rock groove of "Those Days" nod to the musicians that inspired Psychocandy's tunes, like the Ronettes and the Beach Boys.
But Times New Viking haven't packed away their punk side either. They've given this facet of their sound an indie-rock makeover, as many other bands have done. While "I Smell Bubblegum" sounds like a darker version of the noisy Brooklyn pop-punk duo Japanther, "2/11 Don't Forget" sounds like indie rock but approaches it with a tongue-in-cheek slant that's more reminiscent of the Damned than any of Matador's big-name artists. Plus, the vocals clash with one another so much that they taunt the relaxing, Yo La Tengo-style guitar that drives the tune. It's the Yo La Tengo song that's too messed-up for Yo La Tengo, and that's a very good thing.