|After The End (August 26, 2014)|
Merchandise — After The End (August 26, 2014)
♠■♠ It’s time to Dance, Cry, Reflect, Imagine, and Make Love. EDITORS’ NOTES
♠■♠ The Tampa, Fla.~based Merchandise signed to the influential U.K. label 4AD and performed a stylistic about~face for their third album, After the End. Adding two full~time members to flesh out the trio’s sound, the band set about recording and producing their music over a six~month period in their Tampa house. Gareth Jones (who’s twiddled dials for Depeche Mode, Interpol, and Grizzly Bear) helps out with the mixing, but the performances are the sound of a band growing up. No longer aiming for the aggression of postpunk, the band recreate the suave sounds of the late ‘80s. “Enemy” snags the opening riff to The Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” and makes it dance for a new century. “True Monument” lets singer Carson Cox put his baritone to good use, which he continues to do on songs like “Green Lady,” “Life Outside the Mirror,” and “Looking Glass Waltz,” emerging in the process as a leader of considerable power.
Location: Tampa, FL
Album release: August 26, 2014
Record Label: 4AD
01 Corridor 2:46
02 Enemy 4:30
03 True Monument 4:59
04 Green Lady 4:28
05 Life Outside the Mirror 4:55
06 Telephone 4:05
07 Little Killer 3:05
08 Looking Glass Waltz 4:01
09 After the End 6:55
10 Exile and Ego 4:34
℗ 2014 4AD
♠■♠ Design for the album After The End.
♠■♠ Merchandise logo and back cover type were drawn by the band themselves. Sculpture on the cover created by Frank Haines.
by Stuart Berman | AUGUST 28 2014 | Score: 7.0
♠■♠ Merchandise’s latest and first for new label home 4AD is so determinedly mild~mannered, it essentially amounts to a declaration of war: against dominant notions of cool, the act of hiding your feelings behind a wall of noise, and the idea that anti~pop experimentation is inherently more noble and challenging a practice than writing a simple, emotionally direct love song.
♠■♠ We tend to measure the speed of 21st~century living by the furious rate of cultural output, but an even more accurate gauge is how quickly once~entrenched ideals can change. To wit, in a July 2012 interview with Pitchfork, Carson Cox of Tampa post~punk outfit Merchandise offered up this definition of success: “There’s a new warehouse space called Cyborg City, where we just played an amazing show. There were a ton of fucking people there. There were, like, 70 fucking people.” Fast forward two years, and that same guy has just released an album that sounds like it was designed for stadium crowds of 70,000.
♠■♠ Of course, Merchandise are hardly the first punk~schooled band to eventually pursue loftier aspirations. But where many big~label debuts from former indie darlings often amount to putting lipstick on a pig, Merchandise are using their promotion to 4AD to, as Cox recently put it to the NME, “start a new band with basically the same name.” And he’s not just talking about the group’s expansion from a drum~machined trio to a proper five~piece. Rather than nudge themselves toward the center by subtly sanding away the edges of their texturally dense art~pop epics, on After the End, Merchandise catapult themselves to the rightmost reaches of the dial, and, in the process, transform into their idea of what the archetypal mainstream rock band should be — which is actually so far off the mark from what mainstream rock actually is in 2014 that it positions Merchandise as far away from centrist pop~culture as they were when they were playing gigs in storage units.
♠■♠ Merchandise’s continually surprising evolution and capacity for challenging their core assumptions have mirrored those of another band of once~evasive hardcore exiles who have grappled with growing up and out of punk (and who are led by an outspoken frontman with a penchant for endlessly scrollable interviews): Fucked Up. Except instead of embracing 1970s rock~operatics, Merchandise have become greatly enamored with the Big Music of the mid~‘80s and the buttoned~up college~rock of the early ‘90s. (In retrospect, last year’s debut single for 4AD — the unwieldy 14~minute Spiritualized~scaled behemoth “Begging for Your Life/In the City Light” — now feels like a last~gasp exorcism of their arty eccentricities.) On After the End, the band downplay their perennially fashionable Smiths/Cure/New Order influences and tether themselves to more unabashedly populist signposts that have, thus far, proven resistant to hipster reclamation: Post~I.R.S. R.E.M., pre~pirit of Eden Talk Talk, the more meditative end of the Pearl Jam canon. ♠■♠ https://pitchfork.com/
Tim Jonze | Thu 14 Aug 2014 15.00 BST | Score: ****
Rhian Daly | Aug 21, 2014 5:01 pm
♠■♠ Now signed to 4AD, the Florida punks’ bold makeover as an indie~pop band has produced a fantastic record.
♠■♠ http://www.nme.com/reviews/album/reviews-merchandise-15568 / Merchandise — A Corpse Wired for Sound (September 23, 2016)
♠■♠ While bearing similarities to the bittersweet music of ‘80s Manchester, the poppy melodies of the art rock trio feel timeless.
Formed: 2008 in Tampa, FL
Styles: Indie Roc, New Wave/Post~Punk Revival, Alternative/Indie Rock
Album release: September 23, 2016
Recording Date: 2015 ~ 2016
1 Flower of Sex 4:54
2 Crystal Cage 4:00
3 Right Back to the Start 4:16
4 End of the Week 4:11
5 Lonesome Sound 4:16
6 Shadow of the Truth 5:12
7 Silence 5:08
8 I Will Not Sleep Here 6:46
9 My Dream Is Yours 4:23
♠■♠ Carson Cox
♠■♠ David Vassalotti
♠■♠ Patrick Brady
♠■♠ Maurizio Baggio / Carson Cox / Merchandise 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9
♠■♠ Maurizio Baggio / Carson Cox / Merchandise / David Vassalotti 8
♠■♠ Maurizio Baggio Composer, Engineer, Mastering, Mixing, Producer
♠■♠ Patrick Brady Group Member
♠■♠ Carson Cox Composer, Group Member, Illustrations
♠■♠ Merchandise Composer, Engineer, Mastering, Mixing, Producer
♠■♠ ZZ Ramirez Cover Painting
♠■♠ Marco Rapisarda Design, Layout
♠■♠ David Vassalotti Composer, Group Member, Unknown Instrument
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger
♠■♠ Shapeshifting Floridian trio Merchandise continue to evade easy description, eschewing the glossy production of their previous effort as they continue to develop in a variety of directions. Where 2014’s After the End immersed itself in late~‘80s college rock glory, their follow~up, the slinky A Corpse Wired for Sound, has less obvious intentions. Named after a phrase from a J.G. Ballard short story, Corpse is mysterious, moody, and nearly gothic in atmosphere and texture. Ironically, this decidedly less slick effort marks Merchandise’s first album recorded in a proper studio with locations split between Italy, Germany, and Florida.
♠■♠ The drums are largely programmed and synths prevail on tracks like “Right Back to the Start” and “Silence,” each song exploring a different avenue of loneliness and mourning time’s passage. Frontman and chief songwriter Carson Cox immerses his crisp baritone in pools of reverb, effectively filtering its coolness as if through the lenses of his black Wayfarers. Echoes of Depeche Mode merge with swirling pop on “Shadow of the Truth,” while lead single “Lonesome Sound” relies more on industrial~leaning, heavily processed guitar rock. The mostly acoustic “I Will Not Sleep Here,” the lone track written by David Vassalotti, is a slow~building late~album highlight approaching seven minutes and concluding with an anthemic bang. In Merchandise’s growing catalog, Corpse is both like and unlike anything they’ve done before. Their experimentation and artistic growth is the trend they pursue most doggedly with each release, though the sounds here won’t be totally unfamiliar to fans of their previous albums. It’s a tough act to consistently maintain, but they’ve delivered another artful, well~crafted release.
|After The End (August 26, 2014)|