Come on an imaginary road trip with me. We’re in a ’61 Thunderbird, top down, wind in our hair. We’re hurtling headlong down a never ending bolt-straight Mojave Desert road. The midday sun beats relentlessly down, the heat haze shimmers. Our arms are draped languidly over the side of the car. The occasional cactus is our only company. And our soundtrack, our perfect soundtrack, would be Decay Decoy by the Megaphonic Thrift. And that, friends, is both Decay Decoy’s great strength but also its inherent weakness.
Hailing from Bergen, Norway, The Megaphonic Thrift were formed in 2007 out of the ashes of main man Richard Mykleburst’s previous band, Stereo 21. Initially merely a medium for his new material, over time The Megaphonic Thrift have become a more communal concern culminating in the release of last year’s Thousand Years of Deconstruction EP, and this, their debut album.
Decay Decoy is not an album to kick back to. Background music it is not. The agenda is set early on with the cyclical power riffs and Krautrock rhythms of ‘The Undertow’. The release blurb mentions comparisons to Mercury Rev and Dinosaur Jr, and it’s immediately clear where they’re drawn from – it’s not so much in the music but in a vocal delivery that recalls the narcoleptic styles of Jonathan Donahue and J. Mascis. ‘Talks Like A Weed King’ follows in a similar vein, some sugary girl vocals providing yin to the drawling yang. I’m drawn again and again to the feeling that I’m listening to The Phantom Band’s slightly more muscular cousins and Queens of the Stone Age’s slightly more poppy little brothers. In other words – nice start, guys.
As the album draws on though, a theme emerges. Each song rarely deviates from its central riff or idea. None of the tracks are by any means overlong, but the relentless repetition means that they often feel a lot longer than they really are. Seriously – The Vaccines could fit an album’s worth of material into the time it takes for The Megaphonic Thrift to shift to a new riff, or even key. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that – after all, the central riffs or ideas are all good riffs and ideas. It just means that the opportunity to really appreciate Decay Decoy feels a bit limited. Like, I wanna get the Thunderbird, the Mojave and the cacti just so I can appreciate this record in all its glory. But I’ve got Bury and February and rain, and I’m not sure the effect is quite the same.
The album does occasionally quicken the pulse – those first two tracks and the Isn’t Anything-era My Bloody Valentine-isms of ‘Candy Sin’ (Colm O’Ciosig-style machine gun drum fills and white noise breakdowns). But in the absence of deserts and cacti and convertible cars, I’ve a feeling that Decay Decoy might be best appreciated live in cider dazed summer festival fields. See you down the front, yeah?
Release Date 21/02/2011 (Club AC30)