Sometimes you get stuck on a review. Sure, I meant to delve outside my comfort zone a bit in grabbing this record, but I’ve been a little stuck on the details. The plus side, of course, is that means I’ve given it dozens of spins.
Typical System is the second release from Melbourne’s Total Control. The band features some recognizable names who have played with Eddy Current Suppression Ring and UV Race, but they’re really their own project with a completely new focus on dark and synthesized music. While it’s beat-driven, calling it dance music is a stetch. It’s somewhere between mid-era Cure and very early Ministry in tone: haunting and atmospheric. The synths will shimmer through the clouds, but it’s always overcast while listening to Typical System. The vocals are calm and soft, floating on guitars while the synth, drums, and bass create subtle glimmers.
There are some more energetic songs. “Expensive Dog” lets the guitar take over a bit with some more positive energy and the beat definitely looks forward, and in “Systematic Fuck” it’s again faster but still maintains that dreary, sighing tone. In both songs, the vocals remind me of Parquet Courts a bit—a little chanted and formal while paired with contrasting energetic backing music—and it creates a chaotic element that plays well with the band’s overall feel. Finally, album closer “Safety Net” is essentially a pop song given the Total Control treatment. It has nice harmonies and abundant repetition and even gets an almost peppy beat to close things out on a lighter note.
For the most part the sound of the band is enjoyable but without many peaks or valleys. It’s steady and emotionally even keel and that can get in the way on the 40 minute record, feeling more neutral and distant than something to connect with. Some of the tracks, such as “Black Spring” seem endlessly repetitive and dull while others, like “Flesh War” have an extra step in the percussion that takes influence from both New Wave early industrial music and it’s when the guitar can snake a riff here and there or the percussion gets a little more bounce that Total Control stands out.
7.0 / 10
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