Often labelled with the 'Norwegian supergroup' tag (can there be such a thing?), having been formed from a number of feeder Norwegian indie bands, The Megaphonic Thrift's 2011 debut album Decay Decoy provides sufficient promise to keep me listening. The album came to my attention whilst browsing in Aberdeen's leading music shop One Up Records (which I would thoroughly recommend), as I became aware of some dulcet musical tones drifting through the air, and bearing more than a passing resemblance (at various points) to bands such as Sonic Youth, Joy Division/New Order, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, etc, (albeit without quite the same level of creative inspiration). This requires further investigation I felt - leading me to acquire a copy of the said album.
OK, so let's get the bad news out of the way first. There is a rather samey feel to many of the songs here, with (in some) cases relatively uninspired (and pedestrian) rhythm (in particular drums). However, lead singer and principal (I suspect) songwriter Richard Myklebust's vocals are always engaging, and are backed impressively on some songs by Linn Frokedal's harmony backing vocals. Dynamically, at one end of the spectrum we have the full-on Candy Sin (which is a real grower, and sounds, in parts, remarkably like Ideal For Living-era Joy Division), whilst at the other end is probably the album's standout song , the mid-tempo Neues, whose basis is a haunting melody, before the song concludes with an impressive piece of guitar work (featuring an Ira Kaplan-like, but probably more restrained, piece of guitar feedback). With its Strokes-like beginning, Talks Like A Weed King soon transforms into a pulsating wall-of sound, featuring some nice harmony vocals and (again) a feedback-laden conclusion. The other major grower on the album is the closing song Queen Of Noise - as you may have guessed, this is another full-on barrage with impassioned (male and female) vocals, but which transforms into quite an inspired instrumental conclusion (live, I'm sure it's mightily impressive).
Overall then, certainly not a classic, but worth a listen - indeed, the album's appeal is still growing on me after 10 or so listens. Apparently (so I'm told), the follow-up album (released early in 2012) and entitled (uninspiringly) simply The Megaphonic Thrift is a more varied (and less noisy) offering, and is superior to this debut. You never know, I might be tempted.