Sharp guitars, sharp vocals, sharp songs. Everything about Total Victory is sharp.
Wire, Gang Of Four, Alternative TV are their forebears, not just in sound, but in style and attitude. Here, the words are as barbed as the hooks. This is a band demanding answers in a world of platitudes.
They released their debut album, The Pyramid Of Privilege in 2011. Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights.
‘Fiat Lux’, after a brooding intro, kick starts with a scintillating cavalcade of probing guitar and a relentlessly pounding rhythm section. Capturing a late night drive through the post industrial towns of Northern England this is a beautiful 21st century successor to Joy Division’s ‘Interzone’. This blows up with the cathartic release of ‘Let there be light’ from singer Dan Brookes’, screaming into the night, oozing ambivalence over whether he is triumphant or incandescent.
‘Omnivictory’ heralds Total Victory’s long, loving dalliance with Gang Of Four staccato-funk. Slices of sharp guitars team up with twitchy drums and bass: barely controlled aggression battles weary resignation, fear of information overload, refusal to sublimate.
‘1700 to 1703’ electrifies with a high wire, neurotic shower of guitar fireworks. Not a million miles from ‘One Day’ by The Fall as Dan Brookes yells to make himself heard. Thrilling.
‘Conservative Girls’ is a stand out with a remarkable, intelligent set of lyrics pitching a satirical love discourse interjected with Ballardian dystopian-porn imagery. Dan Brookes’ lyrics would grow sharper and more pointed by their second album, National Service, but this shows his craft growing nicely.
‘So you bring your new girl home, you say you’ve fallen in love, you say you’ve fallen in love / with traffic islands, supermarkets, shopping centres, that go on for ever…’
‘The Singer’ unwinds over 10 minutes as a low key song-story, like an early Fall album track, say Room To Live era. That is until past the 4 minute mark when it kicks off into a frantic flat out race. Soaring with a dedication to the 4/4 beat that borders on the hypnosis-inducing, along with effects drenched whirlpool guitars and pile-driving bass. Then… it all settles back into the Smiths’ mope soap. Then back to the 100 mph death ride, the bumper scraping the central reservation.
My only complaint would be that ‘Can we cool down Venus’ is one of those tracks where Total Victory come alarmingly close to sounding a bit indie guitar pop. If that’s what tickles yer pickle then more power to you, personally it’s a sound that brings to mind hipsters having a conversation about organic quinoa.
The beauty of Total Victory is that they may nod towards iconic post punk bands but only use these influences as a starting point. The Pyramid Of Privilege stands as a fascinating, innovative starting point for a band with brains, guts and a heady appreciation for the power of matching a questioning nature with guitars.