Tampa Florida five piece Merchandise are one of the most exciting bands to come out of America in years, musically they don’t stand still, they are one of the few bands whose music morphs into something else with each release. They have released 3 albums the first being the lo-fi ‘(Strange Songs) In the Dark‘, but received most recognition from their last 2 releases ‘Children Of Desire‘ and ‘Total Nite‘,which gained them comparisons to British bands The Smiths and The Jesus And Mary Chain. Both albums were a mixture of lengthy psychedelic tunes and guitar riffage, described as “ear bleeding noise pop”. A personal favourite is the 10 minute epic ‘Become What You Are‘ from ‘Children Of Desire‘, the album is well worth checking out for that track alone.
Merchandise recently signed to legendary British indie label 4Ad and released ‘Begging For Your Life / In The City Light‘ in January, which weighed in at 14 minutes long, it was a different beast from what they had recorded previously.
Their latest release ‘After The End‘ is another reinvention for the band, this time they have made ‘An Indie Pop record’ of shorter more structured polished songs Written by Carson Cox and guitarist David Vassalotti. Recorded and produced again by the band over a six month period in the house they share in Tampa. Gareth Jones whose CV includes Depeche Mode,Erasure and Interpol was brought in on mixing duties.
Speaking to the NME earlier this year, Carson said “Totale Nite was the end of the book. This is a whole new one. It’s like we can start a new band with basically the same name. We’ve already exploded our reality – now we’re going to re-make ourselves as a pop band, but it’ll still be a twisted reality.”
Carson certainly kept his word, the chiming instrumental ‘Corridor‘ opens the album beautifully into the Glam head back pouting lips guitar strumming pop stomper ‘Enemy‘, Cox sings “If I’m what I say you say I am, then it shouldn’t be hard to understand”, great stuff! ‘Green Lady‘ featuring spiky glam riffs and synths was inspired by a green lightbulb in Cox’s bedroom.The video features the distinctive green album sleeve, ‘a strange revolving cube’ based on a sculpture by frank Haines.
‘Life Outside the Mirror‘ changes the pace, a melancholic song with more killer guitar playing from David Vassalotti which will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, and with random bells added at the end.
‘Telephone‘ is another good fun Pop moment with throwaway lyrics nice guitar textures and bouncing bass, throughout, definitely one for radio. ‘Little Killer‘ is where they first showcased the new Merchandise, with a video directed by Carson Cox. It is a fantastic taste of 80’s pop with a similar vibe to ‘Enemy‘, the most immediate track here.
The church organ and marching drums of ‘Looking Glass Waltz‘ begins a suite of melancholic ballads which leave the previous pop moments behind. ‘After The End‘ channels English new wave band ‘Talk Talk’ with gorgeous swirling sounds,guitar washes and doom laden piano with lyrics about the end of the world.
‘Exile And Ego‘ Cox sings “Help me do what’s right baby… cause I’m lost out here without you” its gloomy and dour but ends with gorgeous acoustic strumming.
At 45 minutes long After The End doesn’t outstay its welcome. its a fantastic reinvention full of killer guitar riffs and wonderful clear production,
The whole band are on top form throughout the album, I cant wait to hear the sound they come up with next, but for now Merchandise are biting at the heels of the mainstream, tremendous!
WATCH ‘LITTLE KILLER’ BELOW: