DIY Noisemakers Polish Up Sound

Times New Viking
Dancer Equired

Dancer Equired’s fuzzed-out garage rock and occasionally audible vocals may not seem like a leap toward refinement, but for Times New Viking — outright champions of blaring lo-fi grit since 2005 — it’s a marked effort at greater polish. In turning down the chainsaw distortion of 2008’s Rip It Off, Dancer Equired serves as proof that, underneath the layers of deafening noise, there exists some confident pop sensibilities.

Like past TNV albums, Dancer Equired wastes little time, cramming 14 songs into a brief 31 minutes. But this time around, the band embraces a more traditional approach to songwriting, replacing the fuzz-ridden fillers with a grab bag of catchy, structured songs.

Opener “It’s a Culture” reveals this shift from the get-go, pairing jangling ’60s guitar and vocal harmonies with driving indie-rock drums. “Ever Falling in Love” further drifts from the overwhelming amplifier drawl, sounding more like a timid Velvet Underground than a restless Guided By Voices.

“Try Harder” takes an honest crack at guitar-heavy ’90s indie a la Sebadoh, while the breezy “California Roll” might be a contender for this summer’s mainstream romcom soundtrack.

The album’s strongest track is the playful “Fuck Her Tears,” which harnesses Times New Viking’s ability to translate raw energy into raucous pop music. The track harkens back to the soft-spoken emotional directness of former label-mates and indie rock legends Yo La Tengo in a fierce two-minute homage.

For a band whose past DIY face-melting has frequently been criticized as “unlistenable,” Dancer Equired undoubtedly stands as Times New Viking’s most mature effort to date. But without compromising the ramshackle youth and infectious hooks of past albums, the band’s grown up without growing old, tapping into a whole new fan base in the process. (7/10)

— Taylor Hogshead