Merchandise
(Strange Songs) In the Dark


5.0
classic

Review

by zach USER (27 Reviews)
June 9th, 2012 | 16 replies | 3,657 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The musical equivalent of waking up, looking in the mirror, and asking "What happened?"

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Where are you in life? Confused? Disjointed? Stoned? Sad? Lost? A needle drops, feedback looms, and a man starts crooning. And there you are. You don’t know where “there” is, but it feels alright.

Thus begins (Sad Songs) In the Dark. An ambling freeway of noise, confusion, and pop sensibilities. It’s odd. The pop sensibilities are there and songs like “I Locked the Door” showcase them in a perfect display of what Merchandise could be, if they wanted to be a pop band, but ultimately each song hinges on vocalist Carson Cox’s wailing croons. Opening track “Loss” consists solely of a wall of feedback, tape hiss, Cox’s vocals, and towards the end, a rising scale of synthesizers, yet in practice it’s a wildly cohesive and emotional track that allows you to slip into the drugged and dazed world of Merchandise.

By the time “I Locked the Door” opens, you’re hooked. The drums awkwardly pick up, the guitar squeals and wails back and forth, and the bass pumps along in a way that makes the room dance in front of you. Cox’s register hits all the disastrous anxious lows of a man who’s given up, but also sweetly falsettos to a place of longing, desire, and hope. As the song chugs along and quickly falls apart to an abrupt end, the denouement of the trip comes with “Foolish”.

“Foolish” sluggishly scrapes along with the help of a simple slowed down drum beat, walls of feedback, and of course, Cox’s vocals, this time slightly distorted whether by design or the nature of lo-fi recording. The song’s hazy atmosphere resemble all the best parts of remembering a dream but harshly realizing it ultimately amounts to little, than perhaps a new goal. All of a sudden, the song stops and holds for a moment, as you drift back hoping to find that place again, and then quickly jumps into a resounding guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place in an 80s hair metal show.

The album continues this trajectory, of unfounded highs and crushing lows. Indefinable by genres, the album sits somewhere between goth, shoegaze, noise, lo-fi, and pop. Guitarist/keyboardist Dave Vassilotti, of Cult Ritual and Neon Blud “fame” uses his background in refashioning hardcore and noise pop to add a contextual layer of pop sensibilities where they have no place, but are happily welcomed.

(Strange Songs) In the Dark is a masterpiece of disjointed pop, loss, misery and desire. I’ve heard that heroin mimics all of the neurological associations of love, and in that way, Merchandise is it’s musical equivalent. All of the soaring highs and hopeless lows of losing yourself in someone else’s dimples, hair brushed to one side, lips quietly quivering, only to realize you don’t exist.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
porch
June 9th 2012



8453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah cool album

still need to hear their latest

iarescientists
June 9th 2012



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

New album is a lot poppier. I like it, but this kills.

I might write a review for that as well, idk.

Spare
June 9th 2012



5270 Comments


iarescientists outta nowhere cool review haven't heard record sounds good

Blackbelt54
June 9th 2012



4269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review I need to get this I like their new one

auberginedreams
June 9th 2012



6028 Comments


i've only heard their new one.

iarescientists
June 9th 2012



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

... rly?


Pretty much everything I've written after I stopped posting regularly has been stupid pretentious, because I kind of stopped caring, but that might just be objectively awful.

I may change it.

trix4dix
June 9th 2012



343 Comments


luv this album so much

Winesburgohio
June 9th 2012



1011 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I really, really like this but a 5 seems a bit ridic, is it the kind of album that just clicks when you least expect it?

Also have u heard Book of Ghosts you'd adore Book of Ghosts I can just tell

Digging: Gordon Ashworth - S.T.L.A.

iarescientists
June 9th 2012



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, I picked this up about a year ago, when my friend told me it was his favorite album of 2010. I listened to it a few times and dug it, but never went beyond that. Then when Book of Ghosts came out, my roommate was playing it all the time, so I checked it out and loved it, and then rediscovered this and have pretty much exclusively listened to D. Vassalotti related shit since December.

Winesburgohio
June 9th 2012



1011 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sweet deal! Does either your friend/roommate have anything to do with icoulddietomorrow.blogspot? I only ask because that's how I stumbled upon them + all of Katorga Works' incredible output

iarescientists
June 9th 2012



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I have no idea who runs the icoulddietomorrow blog, but I've found a few great bands from there. I know a friend of mine is good friends with one of the dudes who runs Katorga Works, and I have a feeling they're somewhat involved with icoulddietomorrow, since they post all of Katorga's shit, but I don't know for sure.

auberginedreams
June 9th 2012



6028 Comments


yeah that blog is cool, i've found a few things on there.

Transient
June 11th 2012



1461 Comments


gonna listen but only because it's zach goddamn savage

Blackbelt54
July 9th 2013



4269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

can't believe I slept on this for so long, I really like it, it's a bit different from their other stuff

Chortles
November 27th 2013



17932 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

took a while but this is def my fave from these guys, band can do no wrong though

Digging: Yo La Tengo - Electr-O-Pura

SeaAnemone
December 8th 2013



19939 Comments


music for my soul being crushed by law schools finals

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country



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