In October of 2003, the music world was blessed with the release of Echoes the debut full-length by NYC hipsters the Rapture. Their blend of dance beats and a punk rock disposition had marinated in the ears of a shitload of people on the indie scene who said to themselves “Yeah, I can dig this!” Five months later in March of ’04 Franz Ferdinand hit America from the other side of the pond via Glasgow, Scotland with their irresistible and dancy debut, chock full of pop hooks and bursting at the seams with snotty art-punk. It was declared a pop-masterpiece and even claimed the prestigious Mercury Prize as it officially marked the exhumation of the new wave pigeonhole, a genre that had been all but dead for the nearly two decades since Gang of Four broke up. Now it seems like a new, new wave band is coming out every week with a massive amount of accolades and the record companies are cashing in on the trend by making sure that artists of this genre are having their albums flying out of the studios and on to the shelves faster than it takes for cabbage to fly from the human stomach and out of the colon.
But now it seems, there is something lurking beyond this trend. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Louisville, KY rockers Instant Camera and their momentous debut, Alive on Departure. They have made a new wave album that isn’t a new wave album, and the launching pad for a post-post-punk revolution. Trust me, once you hear this you will know what I’m saying. Instant Camera has come along to show where the real skills lie in this field. Aside from My Morning Jacket, Slint, and baseball bats, nothing else really comes off the top of my head when I think of Louisville. Now I feel that as all cars enter the city limits, they should be greeted with a huge billboard emblazoned with the words. “Welcome to Louisville, Home of Instant Camera”.
If you were glued to MTV during its inception then you will become elated as Alive on Departure departs with the synth-lines correlative to New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies with “Beyond Insanity” as it is plumed with breezy harmonies and a cocktail of singing and beats that would be perfect for doing the robot. It’s rather enlivening to see the bailiwick from the glory days of Duran Duran shine on with “Existing to Cease” and on “Another Suggestion (For White Noise)” where singer Neil Dez lets us all know what Joy Division’s Ian Curtis would have sounded like minus the gloomy-Gus undercurrent. As long as were on the subject of Ian Cutis, have you ever wondered what the bastard child of Joy Division of Oingo Biongo would sound like? It would be similar to “Style Over Substance Abuse” with its speedy punk funk and lots of stamina when it comes to staying brash and fresh as it clocks in at less than two minutes.
Patrons of the great early American days of indie-punk labels such as SST and Dischord will take nicely to “Dr. Glass,” as it blends Simon Ryans’ organ riffs and Mark Campbell’s feverish beats. Sit back and listen as solid angst is paired alongside the bouncy pop ruckus of the Futureheads on “Social Anxiety” and if you fancy some retro sci-fi pop, then you won’t want to skip past “Terrorvison.”
Instant Camera shakes out their arty jitters on songs such as “Shadowman,” augmented with some baroque piano and lots of fuzz and “Working Class Zero’s” wintry yet enkindling Kraut-rock pulse. Ryans moonlights his accordion skills on “Hearing is Disbelieving” as he conducts some tripped out gypsy-ska madness as Neil Dez croons on par with the psychedelic mannerisms of Jim Morrison served with a generous helping of the mouth harp.
After listening to Alive on Departure, I have come to the conclusion that it is a unique find that should not be overlooked in 2005 and it just may be the greatest album that the ’80s never saw.
VHS or BETA – Night on Fire
Wire – Chairs Missing
Magazine – Real Life