[sic] Magazine

VIDEO – The Entertainers

VHS: a frustrating yet charmingly nostalgic format.VIDEO: a frustrating post-punkish band from Austin dwelling in too many types of nostalgia. The Entertainers, their second LP, sounds simply like it wanted to be a HC record but pussied out in the studio. Live it’s undoubtedly visceral, but for a band riding a “hate wave” of their own making there’s just not enough hate. A tendency to revert to bland melody, particularly in later tracks, often does them no favours at all.

Nihilism nevertheless abounds in Daniel Fried’s taught lyrics. He blasts out, for example, that “some things will never change” during the equally bleak “Nothing Lasts Forever”, and The Entertainers as a whole definitely has more barbs than his solid Radioactivity and Mind Spiders projects. It’s an album that in fairness has a pretty great A-side too. Sombre piano bleeds into impassioned acoustic strumming, jagged punk-rock, sharking bass and post-punk’s sharpest hooks cutting through the gloom on the impressive title track. Hot on its heels, lead single, “New Immortals” is a tight, stop-start American snot-punk anthem with a generous portion of sweet solo action. Next in line, the decent “Drink It In” houses a sludgy proto-punk strut.

Signalling a shift in focus and tempo though, the patient “No Art” is The Entertainers’ second longest track, but it’s little more than a drizzle of dull punk-rock. From here, a space-rock synth pan, sitting up to this point only in the LP’s most obscure corners, comes to the fore and its prominence really isn’t VIDEO’s strongest suit. Their psychedelic punk is best balanced on “Out Of My Hands”, a track with a bridge borrowed from Bows & Arrows-era The Walkmen and on which its guitars are run through something akin to phaser pedals.

The aptly titled “The End Of It All” brings down the curtain with six minutes of killer post-punk riffing and dynamic percussion, the track sadly blurring out during its latter parts into generic punk-rock shouting. It sounds like an overlong out-take from Iceage’s debut scrubbed up in its Sunday best and slowed down so as not to offend the grandparents. And there’s nothing punk nor nostalgic about that.

Best track: “The Entertainers”

~The Entertainers is released November 13th 2015 via Third Man Records.~