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Viet Cong - 'Viet Cong'

Artist: Viet Cong
Album: Viet Cong
Label: Jagjaguwar
For Fans Of: Women, Interpol, Joy Division
Standout Tracks: ‘Bunker Buster’, ‘Continental Shelf’, ‘Death’
[xrr rating=4/5]

When you think the influx of new and interesting music has just about dried up, bands like Viet Cong come along to shake things up a bit. A Canadian post-punk quartet formed by two former members of indie-rock band Women, these guys have just released their self-titled seven song full-length, ‘Viet Cong’ to magnificent affect.

‘Newspaper Spoons’ is the opening track and works to guide you slowly in to the anarchic progression of the album. The intro seems edgy and tense, the chant-like vocals accompanied by a low, pummelling drum beat that hints at something a little militaristic. Sharp guitars cut through the lo-fi sound, creating a forlorn, apocalyptic vibe – somewhat foreshadowing the mood of the rest of the album. But it’s not all doom and gloom, busy synth lifts the downbeat melody and ends the track on a more hopeful note.

My personal high on the record is ‘Bunker Buster’. Cutting out the crap and delving straight into a dirty, stilted guitar riff Bunker Buster has great poetic lyrical delivery and embeds itself into the jerky, intense, evocative flow of the track, all while building up to a heavy and aggressive climax. It’s like being punched in the head by a heavy-weight boxer. The whole thing feels confused but connected, sweet but sour, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

‘Continental Shelf’ is another gem on the album. A bit more hooky, but just as fierce. A song soaked in reverb. The steady drumbeat carries the distorted guitar riff and haunting, distant vocals. With stirring lyrics such as, ‘Don’t want to face the world it’s suffocating’ this track seems to successfully deal with the concept of hidden fears and the fragility of life. It’s a restless and emotionally charged lament, leaving you to ponder what inner turmoil the artist is going through. It feels like the band is on some twisted, philosophical journey and us lucky buggers have just been invited along.

The grand finale to ‘Viet Cong’ is the 11 minute adrenaline-rush that is ‘Death’. There is so much I could say about this track and so much it says for itself. This is an atmospheric piece centred around an intrusive drumbeat and resonating bassline. This song moves along so much, it feels like three tunes rolled into one. It starts as a light, steady melody driven piece and ends as a chaotic wall of free-flow noise. Full of fervent imagery and a startling narrative, the intense build-up gives you the sense of running from something, like being stuck in a nightmare the band have constructed just for you.

If I could describe ‘Viet Cong’ in one word it would be – Uncanny. It’s a little strange, a little different, but it draws you in like a sirens song. This is an album you can sink your teeth into, an album with a bit of bite. This is a strong debut from a band with big ideas. I definitely look forward to seeing what dark and subversive tunes Viet Cong throw at us next.

By Clarrie-Rose Plommer

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