Review Summary: Fun tunes for fun people.
Brooklyn-based label Katorga Works has been responsible for releasing several landmark punk albums in the last three or four years. Among these are the ripping and controversial Hoax 7”, crowd-punching its way into the hearts of hardcore kids everywhere, the sum of the ever bursting at the seams Denton, Texas scene alt-punk band Wiccans with last year’s excellent Skullduggery
, and the hipster NYHC darlings Creem’s self-titled LP out earlier in 2012. Trolling around the web, you’ll find that many internet punx are extremely fond of these three groups- and for good reason, as all three propagate their respective niches in such highfalutin fashion that it’s tantamount to blasphemy to speak down on them in any way.
Based upon this it meant quite a bit when Katorga Works declared that Merchandise’s sophomore full length Children of Desire
is “hands-down the best record we've been a part of.” It’s a bold statement that left album with shoes the size of Robert Wadlow’s to fill. It’s also worth noting that Merchandise is comprised of members of bands such as Nazi Dust- whose debut demo is considered by many to be one of the best hardcore releases of its kind in the past decade, Neon Blud, and Cult Ritual. Adding to all this pressure is the fact that Merchandise’s first LP, 2010’s (Strange Songs) In the Dark
, was no slouch. That album brilliantly segued through genre dysphoria that would threaten to bury many lesser bands, arriving at a final destination that was somewhere between post-punk, nu-gaze, and hi-fi noise.
Children of Desire
doesn’t exactly start where Strange Songs
left off, but that proves to be only to Merchandise’s benefit. Children of Desire
is first and foremost a pop album, and any listener would do well to keep that in mind. “Time” opens the album with a deep throated, bouncy guitar line and typical smashing post-punk drum fills. Vocalist Carson Cox croons to a lover, singing “we’re still young baby, but we’re getting old…I know your body and I miss it like your voice” and we’re off to the races. His vocals are front and center this time around, unlike past Merchandise releases, and the gambit pays off successfully as his fantastic diction fills the soul of the album.
“Become What You Are” pushes the envelope even farther, sounding something like an amalgamation of late-career Smiths and The Cure, with maybe a little of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks sprinkled on top, particularly as the song devolves from a straightforward rock track with Ian Curtis-approved pop sensibilities into a cacophonous swirl of electronics and keyboards. This song is one of two on the album that pushes past the ten minute mark, previously uncharted territory for Merchandise. The other is closer “Roser Park” which brings the album full circle, recycling the still fresh riff from “Time” into a vast soundscape of lethal cunning and perceptible delicacy. It really brings Children of Desire
together in such an impressive configuration, proving that Merchandise can and will continue to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon them.