In an age where the mainstream music industry has, for the most part, become a bloated beast centered on forging and manipulating increasingly shallow youth markets and releasing a seemingly endless stream of exorbitantly-expensive-to-record, overproduced, polished-turd records, an increasing number of indie bands are turning to four-tracks, ghettoblasters, peak-heavy mixing, tape hiss, fuzz, static, noise, and other decidedly lo-fi sound aesthetics. Yet, while these acts reject this pristine production and the overuse of technology at a time in which pop music seems to be eating itself, other technological advances are making it much easier for smaller acts to record music and garner widespread attention. In fact, some of the best and most discussed albums that came out last year were from those indies who refused to choose between their pop and noise tendencies, instead opting to unite the two in dissonant harmony.
It’s Time!, the 2008 contribution to the ongoing lo-fi explosion from exclamation point-happy caUSE co-MOTION! is a collection of singles released over the last three years. Like peers No Age in 2007, these jangle-poppers have put out a veritable series of 7-inch vinyl (five of `em) on almost as many labels (What’s Your Rupture?, Cape Shok, Can’t Cope, Slumberland), capping it off with a critically-acclaimed compilation. And unless you’re a dedicated vinyl collector, I’d say It’s Time! is the best way to experience caUSE co-MOTION!’s existing catalogue. An infectious ramshackle of yelping vocals, crashing tin-can percussion, and guitar riffs with a ’60s-garage bent, it’s all compiled here in one cohesive burst of joy. Skewing even poppier than their contemporaries, you could tell me they made this record out of pure sunshine, broken-hearted melancholy, youth, optimism, with a dollop of corn syrup, all filtered through an old cassette deck, and I just might believe you.
Along with their attempt to recapture the primitive basics of recording, caUSE co-MOTION! have also stripped their songwriting down to the bare minimum. Not one of the 14 tracks clocks in at longer than two minutes or more than a few chords; all put together like this, they essentially amount to a continuous flood of hyperactive energy with little respite. Luckily, they’re so damn catchy it’s hard to find this fact obnoxious in the least bit. Scant as they may be, I feel like I could listen to standouts “Baby Don’t Do It,” “This Time Next Year” and “Don’t You Know” about 20 times in a row and they still wouldn’t overstay their welcome.
Yes, these offerings are brief morsels anchored only by their undeniable hooks, a fact that will no doubt leave some listeners demanding more meat and less sweet. But, for what these sugary treats may be lacking in variety, originality or depth, they make up for with unapologetic, unadulterated fun. And that’s what we crave from pop music anyway, right?