Reviews Pyongyang Metro Tower of White Tigers

Pyongyang Metro

Tower of White Tigers

Pyongyang Metro is a tough band to separate from their other projects. The band shares members with Off With Their Heads, Rivethead, and Banner Pilot - bands with a unifying sound that's hard to dismiss. Tower of White Tigers, their debut release, is a different beast. It is the second release from Arsenic Records who, per their outdated Myspace page, "is a record label from Minneapolis that, if you want to be technical about it, doesn’t sell any records and isn’t really a label." I'm not sure what that statement means, but this release has a low budget, almost demo feel to it at times. An above average demo, that is. At times reminiscent of (Young) Pioneers, and other times hints of their other bands.

The band shows a wider influence than some of their other bands, but they keep things focused, tearing through thirteen songs in just over fifteen minutes, instead of messing around with elaborate presentation and arrangements. It's concise, but it's not overproduced. Generally speaking, it's punk with off key group vocals (think numerous Cometbus/East Bay bands) and sloppy, meandering guitars. The guitars are a welcome change of pace from power chord punk and, thanks to the frantic pace of the album (only two songs clock in at over two minutes), they don't stray into wankery or other artistic elitism. Parts in "Nobel Laureate" and "Jane Jacobs" reminded me of post-punk overlaid guitars, but at twice the normal speed. The album feels like the members had too many things going on to stop and waste any time before starting another song, and perhaps another band. To quote "Shipyards" out of context, "Cheap speed makes me think fast. We're coming unglued." Mayhap there's another reason this album sounds the way it does...

The lyrics seem to be a mixture of concept, pure nonsense ("Dog Wig"), and sociological storytelling. There are unifying factors, but the subject strays and the sheer speed of the record makes it difficult to decipher more than a few phrases here and there without consulting the lyric sheet.

The energy and guitars are what drive this record. The vocals can be somewhat grating and ruin the experience. While they don't bother me so much on standouts like "Shipyards," "Supreme Court Justice," and "New Hindi Ringtones Now Available," they tend to bring things down a level and make me less likely to crave another listen. Behind the singing, I found moments I enjoyed, with pop melodies that made me think of Armalite. There are positive moments, but not enough for the record to jump above the rest of the pack.

6.0 / 10Loren
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