Review by Andrew Patterson
This is without a doubt the strongest debut from a Canadian group this year. Most bands will never release a collections of songs so palatable in their lifespan; Viet Cong have done it first time around. Though it shouldn’t really come as a surprise considering the group’s pedigree (the peerless rhythm section from Women, plus one ex-Sharp Ends guitarist and one bubbly chap from Feel Alright).
While all their previous projects resulted in some of the finest West Coast music of the last five years, this stuff is even more potent. What gives Viet Cong the edge over those projects is their sonic versatility, and the ease with which they seem to achieve it. Each composition here is as varied and intricate as the next. These six songs drive around at sundown with arms out the window, jump jauntily out of the moving vehicle, they scream, they hit the ground, roll to a stop, get up and show you their gruesome road rash.
Opener ‘Throw It Away’ comes on like a less irritable Mission of Burma before adorning itself in six-string tinsel. In turn, ‘Unconscious Melody’ sounds like a slightly more irritable Talking Heads. A little less new wave, a little more gnarl.
From then on, references are anyone’s guess. Acoustic guitars hang in the backdrop, crisp synths bloom through the cracks of minor concrete melody, a cold wave passes through, time speeds mercilessly and suddenly there is a looming, dead silence. Expertly executed, every piece sits only long enough for the listener to be taken by it. This is truly riveting and inventive art.