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October 2020
Review

Merchandise - A Corpse Wired For Sound

Merchandise can burst way out of the indie rock ghetto into the stratosphere of pop success.
Merchandise - A Corpse Wired For Sound
Published: 10:40 am, September 23, 2016
Merchandise can burst way out of the indie rock ghetto into the stratosphere of pop success.

Label: 4AD
Released: September 23rd 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Merchandise have come a long way since they emerged raging from the Tampa, Florida hardcore scene in 2008. Ever evolving across their five previous albums the band have returned with their most ambitious and glorious album yet.

While 2013’s ‘After The End’ was something of a minor breakthrough it’s pop sheen and sweet atmosphere was slightly at odds with the altogether darker beast that Merchandise are at heart. ‘A Corpse Wired For Sound’ finds them revelling in an alluring dark-hearted 80s pop sound that combines being melodic and accessible with just the right touch of gloom, dread and mystery.

Beginning with the dream pop electro swoosh of single ‘Flower Of Sex’ the album takes in a far more pronounced electro sound, think more the gothic tinged melodrama of Depeche Mode though than Kraftwerk. The nine songs are the perfect showcase for a trimmed down three-piece Merchandise led by the enigmatic singer Carson Cox whose sensual croon is all over these songs.

While the album has the cloak of night time ambience, it’s also a deeply stylish and vivid album that highlights the most diverse music of Merchandises career, for example on the playful dub reggae like swing of ‘Right Back To The Start’. The energised new wave pop rush of ‘Lonesome Sound’ shows that Merchandise have wonderfully honed their ability to make prime pop in a diverting way while the fevered crescendo of closing track ‘My Dream Is Yours’ is a stunning way to finish.

Perhaps the key song of Merchandise’s whole career though can be found in the penultimate song. ‘I Will Not Sleep Here’ written by guitarist Dave Vassalotti has been around since the bands existence but here they finally getting it right delivering a show-stopping piece of heartfelt epic rock that suggests Merchandise can burst way out of the indie rock ghetto into the stratosphere of pop success. It really is that good.

Sometimes it takes a while for a band to truly blossom but in embracing the darkness and the widest textures of their electro rock palette Merchandise have shown that they’re now in full bloom. Martyn Young

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