The press sheet for Canadian quartet Viet Cong’s self-titled album describes this as a ‘winter album’. But with its relentless industrial, crunchy patina, it sounds instead like it's been locked inside a goth-run factory production line for months with barely any awareness of what the weather's doing outside, complete with all the bleak insularity that comes from being kept away from sunlight.
These are songs bestowed with heavy production, each track swathed in a fog of gauzy effects and processing. The result is something that sounds mechanical and generally detached from emotion.
The artsy centrepiece ‘Bunker Buster’ takes linear, repeated new wave guitar loops and infuses the Cars-y mood with blankly enquiring vocals from (ex-Women member) Matt Flegel that sound like he swallowed the entire Interpol back catalogue in one sitting, oblique gestures toward thwarted tenderness and vague word pictures included.
‘Viet Cong’ is short – just seven tracks – and with few exceptions is as dark as Aleister Crowley’s boot heels. ‘Continental Shelf’ (audio, below) has an unexpected euphoric left-turn of a chorus that sounds like it could indeed cause tectonic shift, while the outwardly glum and lengthy ‘Death’ has a surprising pop edge that suggests this band could, at some point, dispense with studio tricks in favour of a much cleaner sound.
For now, though, the sun-starved mechanistic forward motion of these songs will just have to suffice.
Words: Mat Smith
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