Tampa, Florida’s Merchandise don’t reinvent the wheel on this year’s Children of Desire. The wheel they’ve got is damn fine, though. Combining the synthetic beats of New Wave and krautrock with soaring guitars and vocals, they create something that feels both modern and familiar. Their songs make you feel nostalgic for memories you’ve never had. All this from a group of hardcore kids in the sunshine state.
The record opens with the brief “Thin Air”, a synth-filled ballad which creeps along, fading into the upbeat, song of the year-worthy “Time” (which you can listen to below). The lyrics cover classic themes of loneliness and getting older. “Time, you’ve bested me again/I keep trying but I can’t win/Tell me father where you’ve been/I’m alone but used to it,” vocalist Carson Cox croons over an infectious drum machine beat, while a mountaintop guitar riff swoops around the beat (in this metaphor, the guitar riff is a bird). Despite its repetitive structure, the song never wears out its welcome. In fact, its all-too-brief five minutes leaves you wanting more, and that more is brought by the following 11-minute opus “Become What You Are”. The first half of the song chugs along in a similar manner to “Time” – all big guitars and sparkling synths – but cuts out halfway through into a solitary guitar riff, which is followed by a fast-paced jam, complete with whooping synth noises and some big Kraftwerk vibes. It seems at this point, much like Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock before them, Merchandise can’t slow down, ramping up the speed yet again on the fourth track, aptly-titled “In Nightmare Room”. The melodies are darker and the beat more industrial, oozing reverb and skittering hi-hat. This frantic moment comes to a sudden close with the following track, a piano ballad titled, “Satellite”. Cox plays a sparse set of chords, joined slowly by (most likely synthetic) strings and horns, as well as echoing backing vocals. The record culminates in the eleven-minute slow jam “Roser Park”. A midtempo journey through mind of a man wearing a technicolor windbreaker, it sounds a bit like a Prince record slowed to a third of the speed and recorded underwater. It closes off the record in fitting fashion, a triumphant excursion into the 1980s of the future. It’s an incredible record from a band that keeps getting better.
You can get the album from Katorga Works (They have it up as a FREE DOWNLOAD, so no excuses) and you can listen to standout track “Time” below: