Thursday, April 10, 2014

Total Control-Flesh War

Total Control is a restless band, seemingly permanently uncontent with staying still in just one facet of post-punk. This is a band that over four 7”s sounded like four different bands, jumping from Swell Maps-like guitar twitch on one to minimal wave dance thumps on another. Their debut LP Henge Beat felt like the perfect distillation of all this, managing to meld all their different style hopping with one another by coating every aspect of it in a cold, hardened, and detached intensity. But as wonderful as Henge Beat was, it shouldn't be surprising that Total Control would grow uninterested in that style as well.

On its surface, “Flesh War”, the band’s newest song, feels like a continuation of their sound. The drums open the song with mechanical beat as the guitar starts playing a repetitive riff, synths appear to give the song a cold background, and frontman Daniel Stewart’s delivers his vocals in a flat, almost bored monotone. Previously, Total Control would have locked into this groove and let the song bear out as long as they felt like it should. However, once “Flesh War” hits its chorus, everything changes. The track suddenly blossoms, the synths now delivering this incredibly warm melody, and Stewart’s vocals suddenly gaining a deeply romantic quality to them. It’s a sudden but perfectly executed shift that speaks to the band’s desire to always do something different. There’s a dreary beauty to the song, not unlike that of Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia”, melding the band’s more intense past to a new, (more) melodic present. Though maybe “Flesh War” is so striking simply because it’s the song that has humanized Total Control the most, slipping something besides anger or delirium into their music.


Total Control's Bandcamp
Pre-order Typical System soon here, from Iron Lung Records

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