“Let’s do something that hasn’t been done yet,” Beth Murphy sings on “Faces on Fire.” Well, not exactly. Rip It Off sounds a lot like the first two Times New Viking albums: waterfalls of distortion, thumping drums, and half-buried sing-song choruses. It doesn’t quite have the tunes to match those records (Dig Yourself and Presents the Paisley Reich, get them now) but it’s plenty good.
At 16 songs in 33 minutes, it keeps the Columbus, Ohio, trio squarely in the realm of miniaturists. They can compress a two-verse, two-chorus pop song into the 1:04 of “Drop-Out” or 1:36 of “The Apt.” But a few tracks, like “Relevant: Now” (an epic at 3:39), show some interest in almost raga-ish drone. It’s a logical direction, given their sonic profile. Times New Viking specializes in sustained clamor, with guitarist Jared Phillips fuzz-boxing madly over Murphy’s synthesizer and drummer Adam Elliott’s whomps and crashes.
Murphy and Elliott sing separately and together in a simpatico deadpan that registers as simultaneously jaded and joyful. The lyrics (at least the ones I can hear) are similarly attuned: “Everything that you know has been some accident,” they sing on “The Early ’80s,” but it doesn’t sound like bad news. On the coda to “(My Head)” they declare, “I need more money ’cause I need more drugs,” and that doesn’t sound like bad news either. It just sounds like they want to keep the party going.