Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ten Kens: "Namesake" (album review)

Toronto's Ten Kens is one of those bands you have a love/hate relationship with.  It's a relationship that changes day-to-day, album-to-album, and even song-to-song.  On September 4th they offer up their third full length studio album, Namesake.  It appears destined to continue that love/hate trend.

The duo of Brett Paulin and Dan Workman get exceptionally dark this time around.  From the album opener, "Bliss", you can hear the ill-intentions.  They reach a fever pitch with the cacophonous "German Purity", and let's face it, the phrase 'German purity' doesn't exactly evoke thoughts of sunshine and rainbows.

The atmospheres can be hit and miss.  It works on "The Calm of the Car", which sounds like just that- if you were trapped in your car as it sunk to the bottom of a frigid lake and you'd given up all hope of survival.  It misses the mark on "Death In the Family", which feeds off droning ritualistic incantations, until eventually striking a more interesting flit four minutes in.

The ticking timebomb percussion of "Mousetrap" is slashed by B-movie flying saucer effects.  A hard-pounding opus, "When A Door Opens" is reminiscent of more elaborate Fugazi.  The title track winds things down with a near-Industrial grind.

With any album that relies on these sorts of intense, extreme feelings Namesake needs the listener to be in the proper mood to receive the songs in the most effective manner.  It's difficult to imagine oneself being in that appropriate mood for any prolonged period of time.  If you are, you need to seek some emotional help.

Ten Kens play The Garrison in Toronto on October 13th.

Best tracks: "When A Door Opens", "The Calm of the Car"

Track listing for Namesake:
  • Bliss
  • Death In the Family
  • Gently Used
  • Fetal Misgivings
  • The Calm of the Car
  • The Field Around Your Van
  • Mousetrap
  • German Purity
  • When a Door Opens
  • Namesake

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