Album review: Merchandise, After the End

“If I’m your enemy, then I’m keen to be your enemy,” Carson Cox sings to open After The End (4AD). Cox, 28, is probably used to animosity by now.

Merchandise’s first shows were Tampa storage unit sets spent exploring riotous krautrock, and where last year’s Total Nite surely alienated the last of fans with asses chapped by the band’s move towards ‘80s-loving art-rock, this new album completes the escape from underground notoriety and moves towards international recognition.

The LP is sequenced impeccably and references influences (A Flock Of Seagulls, Morrissey, Jesus And The Mary Chain) while simultaneously managing to be weird (“Little Killer” samples a Japanese art film) and ready for mass consumption at the same time (“Telephone”). Guitarist Dave Vassalotti crafts textures usually pulled off by players twice his age (“True Monument”), and producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Nick Cave) makes it all sound more majestic than the boys could’ve on their own (it was still recorded at Cox & co.’s Seminole Heights home).

Merchandise has one of the best local releases of the decade, and while fame has them playing huge festivals overseas, Tampa should be proud that they got their start — and keep chasing their muse — right here at home.

Critics' Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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