Times New Viking – Dancer Equired

Times New Viking seems intent on avoiding a long-term lease in the lo-fi ghetto. The primary talking point for Dancer Equired, their fifth full-length, is that the trio finally deigned to enter a proper recording studio. Trust me, the sonic shift is overplayed – and that’s good news, because there’s precious little in the band’s formula in need of tinkering.

It’s stunning how much mileage the Columbus, OH outfit has wrung from an arsenal of guitar, drums, organ and male/female gang singing, usually mixed at identical levels. The capstan hum that at times seemed like a fourth player has receded just enough to reveal some separation between instruments. It’s hard to imagine the disquieting Summer of Love vibe of “Ever Falling in Love” and “No Room To Live” succeeding without this breathing room – the latter featuring the audible jangle of Jared Phillips’ acoustic guitar. Notably, each of these songs rides breathy lead vocals from a newly confident Beth Murphy, whose emergence as an actual singer is Dancer Equired‘s real watershed. At most, the added technology has cleaned them up to Bee Thousand grade.

Times New Viking has always housed a wealth of sturdy hooks amid the sludge, and this new outing is no exception. The entrancing farfisa riff that fuels “Ways To Go” purrs like a newly unearthed garage classic, while the insistent “Downtown Eastern Bloc” has all cylinders humming with plenty of crosstalk between Kaplan and drummer Adam Elliott and no sign of gloss. And naming the album’s infectious, pogo-ready calling card “Fuck Her Tears” is ample proof there are no commercial concessions at play here.

Dancer Equired‘s so-called maturity only draws attention to Times New Viking’s longstanding merits, such as debts to unassailable idols like Yo La Tengo and the Clean.  On the other hand, nothing on prior releases foreshadowed the early Wire vibe that infuses “Want To Exist” and “Somebody’s Slave.” The label has changed, but the spirit endures.

Times New Viking
Dancer Equired