Merchandise: Totale Nite (Night People)
Merchandise are back with a release that recalls the best of The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine – got to be worth a listen surely? For Louder Than War Rob McNamara checks it out.
If the big bang happened just millimetres to the left of where it did, the ripple effect causing The Smiths and My Bloody Valentine to somehow melt into one band, they would be immortal. The prospect of Kevin Shields and Johnny Marr battling it out over the vocals of a slightly more sedate Morrissey sounds like a dream worth dreaming. With Merchandise from Tampa, Florida, dream no more…kind of.
Totale Nite is their second release after the Children of Desire mini-album from last year.
First up to bat is the churning fuzzbox of Who Are You? Droning electrics battle with a drum machine, harmonica and some lowly bass to make for a great start. Carson Cox’s vocals are not buried that deep in the mix but the mess of noise behind him makes it hard to distinguish what he is singing. Still, he holds sway, demanding, no commanding your attention. It’s mesmerising.
Anxiety’s Door is psychedelia that’s neatly, yet almost incoherently too, mixed with great eighties indie-rock. It’s experimental, yet perfectly crafted in a contradictory tone that suggests they have found the unspoken link between melancholia and that artificial, joyous gratification music of a certain timbre can conjure up.
The guitar playing of David Vassalotti is as intriguing as Carson’s vocals, sinister yet glorious, in turn creating a unique and distorted beauty all of its own. I’ll Be Gone is a vision of understated boon manifested in sound.
Next up is the out-of-tune urgency of title track Totale Nite. It develops with belated intent before descending into a barrage of chaotic noise. Winter’s Dream is fraught with shimmering guitars and orchestral like electronics – while the production allows an atmospheric lure to flourish.
This record harks back to a time when music was constructed in order to see where it could be taken. Imitation was frowned upon. Possibility was fuel and the results were the most credible facets of human emotion we could call upon. When exactly that time was, who knows. Maybe it never happened at all. Until now.
Could a band ever emerge untainted by the machinations of a cynical music industry? Merchandise may just be that band if they continue in the same vein as this. They are like a child you don’t want to grow up. They seem so perfect just as they are – unlikely peddlers of music that evokes urban decay, suffering and confusion from sunny Florida. It doesn’t make any sense, yet you still believe them.
Merchandise can be found at their website.
All words by Rob McNamara.