September 2nd, 2014 2:14am

All Your Thoughtless Words

Merchandise “Enemy”

I was not particularly interested in the earlier incarnation of Merchandise. I didn’t hear fully formed songs in their recordings, and I don’t think that being a band who plays a lot of DIY gigs is even remotely intriguing. But this new version of the band on 4AD has my attention, in part because they’ve embraced a level of craft and a particular approach to recording that reminds me mainly of music that’s extremely unfashionable among the sort of people who had up til now embraced a band like Merchandise – R.E.M., Joshua Tree-era U2, James, later Tears for Fears, and all manner of tastefully produced early ‘90s major label alt-music. They’re good at too! “Enemy,” the best cut on their new record, sounds like Peter Buck strumming alongside The Edge over a relaxed yet brisk beat. There’s a lot of implied negative space in the music, but it’s not begging you to notice that like a lot of airy indie rock does. They’ve just absorbed something really key about the way Brian Eno produced bands like U2 and James – you can play things very straight forward and really let people hear the chords clearly, but it will pop a bit more if you add just a touch of ambience.

Buy it from Amazon.

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