Merchandise – Total Nite Merchandise – Total Nite

merchIt’s come to my attention that in displaying my affection for Merchandise’s first long form trip to the fuzzy mildew blanket wilderness of post-goth-pop-melancholia, Children of Desire I completely neglected to mention a single goddamn thing about the plaintive power of Carson Cox and for that I have no defense. I’d like to think that I was drunk on my pundit punk mancrush on D. Vassalotti and his growing bevy of enviable black wax porn excursions (and probably still am) but there’s a good chance I was simply ignorant of the heart-wrenching truth behind his idiosyncratic croon.

“I think I sound just like my mom when she’s singing to me.”

Dude, I love you.

I mention this all because on the band’s latest release (as of this writing…Merchandise put out a lot of material), Total Nite, Cox’s voice is a welcome anchor to which I can fix my worn and melodramatic heart as the band gets increasingly…um…expansive.


I’m really having a hell of time determining whether or not this record is actually good because, despite it consisting of only five tracks, the damn thing clocks in at 66 minutes and though I’ve developed a serious soft spot for the girth of experimental plodding (I listen to too much SWANS) I’m not sure how well a molasses time lapse figures into otherwise immediate pop songs.

Maybe I’m thinking about it wrong.

There’s a distinctive chance that Merchandise is playing at some pop rock anathema as in the terrifyingly deconstructive excess of The Residents’ Commercial Album knocked on its Frisco ass and stretched black hole thin with periodic dissonance, fuzz and acoustic instrumentation thrown in to obscure the crackling (but earnest) notion that the old verse chorus verse chorus verse excelsis deo ad nauseum primer is an Illuminati scourge set forth several centuries ago for the express purpose of lazy (albeit hella effective) mind control.

Or fuck it, you know?

As Kwame once said, “Dude, you can’t play mad forever“ so I guess it makes sense that as Merchandise develops its canon up from the short shrift weirdness of the Floridian punk underbelly and into the greedy fringes of the new denuded youth culture spree they might allow for their sounds to peter and drown casual listeners out in a languid, pre-apocalyptic bliss.

And no, I most certainly don’t like all of Total Nite. In fact, there are points in this record where I am so pointedly reminded of just how very fucking much I HATE Spandau Ballet that I need Phil Anselmo’s sober rage to cradle me sane and I wish D. hadn’t broken any better than Church Whip and Mr. Cox went all whimpering Hillsborough cuckold but those outrages are brief (if persistent) and routinely obfuscated by the persistence of Merchandise’s talent at expounding their boundaries.

I suppose in many ways, Total Nite is a completely logic step in Merchandise’s trajectory when you consider that the best two songs off of Children of Desire (“Become What You Are” and “Roser Park”) both clocked in over the ten minute mark but whereas those tracks provided a playful stretch to the record’s more traditional tracks, the bulk of Total Nite (aside from the anomalous, and defiantly named, opener “Who Are You?” with its jarring harmonica moan) is lengthy to the point of being ponderous and that sucks.

However, I have found that if this record is left to play endlessly in the background it develops a distinctively meditative air, like the jittering half sleep of a late train ride. Tones ebb and fade and flow back in through a sticky, retrofitted delirium and floating through it all is that Carson croon, calm and warm and resolute as an invitation back to the womb.


Total Nite Tracklist

1. Who Are You?
2. Anxiety’s Door
3. I’ll Be Gone
4. Totale Nite
5. Winter’s Dream

Merchandise - Total Nite, reviewed by Charles on 2013-04-25T08:12:04-07:00 rating 3.6 out of 5

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