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- Totale Nite

The genius of Totale Night is how finely tuned and balanced these incongruent elements are, and the end result is a delight to behold.

Brendan Telford

Jun 14th 2013 | Label: Spunk/Cooperative
Merchandise is a strange proposition. Bubbling up from the Tampa punk and hardcore underground, where members moonlight in bands as disparate as Cult Ritual and Divisions, the band eschew these tropes to craft what is essentially New Wave revivalism with a liberal lashing of black abrasion driven through its core. Their debut record (Strange Songs) In The Dark was an out-of-the-blue belter back in 2010, but it was just as likely that they would revel in the darkness, never to see the light of day again.

Yet here they are with album number three, and Totale Nite is the result of focus and conviction, although invariably steeped in melancholy nihilism. No longer content to use supermarket keyboards in their recording arsenal, Merchandise have fleshed out their skewed aesthetic. Carson Cox's vocals are mordant and despairing, hovering above the swirling guitars and metallic drum machines, and on Anxiety's Door it's so reminiscent of The Smiths that it's uncomfortable. However, on Totale Nite and Who Are You, with the inclusion of saxophone and harmonica respectively, we are back into more original terrain. It resembles pop, yet masked with weird tempo changes and sudden stabs of white noise. 

Totale Nite is filled with pop euphemism, continually toying with the mainstream without any intention of embracing it. The bruised, wasted sentimentality of faux-ballad I'll Be Gone stands at odds with the title track, an infernal ten-minute behemoth that runs the gamut of garage-based acts while infused with anger and industrial blasts. Such abject juxtapositions exist deliberately, yet the genius of Totale Night is how finely tuned and balanced these incongruent elements are, and the end result is a delight to behold.


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