For so long Merchandise resisted the conventions and let mystery define them. Nowhere could you find a website with information on them– they still don’t have a Wikipedia page and their website is a pretentious, encrypted joke amid the hype.
A few live Youtube videos were all that existed to visually satisfy their devotees as they gave away their music for free, barely announcing its release and proved elusive interviewees. Their emergence has always seemed to hark back to the days when loved-up fans would wait to see what their favourite bands were doing via the music print weeklies and instant gratification was a futuristic pipe dream.
The myth of Merchandise is no more, though.
This is a seismic shift from the underground to the indie-pop bandstands for Florida’s finest purveyors of melancholy pop. It’s a statement of their desire to operate on a higher plateu and no longer can they afford to release half-finished recordings. They have a responsibility now to become the biggest alternative band in the world – but only if they fully commit – and as yet their intent comes across as being tinged with reluctance.
The pseudo-60’s pop riff of Enemy signals the most triumphant moment of their existence thus far before Little Killer rams home the message. Telephone injects a bit of Glam-Rock swagger and Green Lady borrows from New Order, the Pet Shop Boys and The Cure – but that doesn’t mean that the furrows into mazes of psychedelic noise that marked their early work have become a thing of the past
Exile And Ego is a ballad for the modern generation and Carson Cox is more like James Dean than Morrissey could ever be. However, there is substance behind the sex appeal – despite the occasional ‘moon in june’ lyric.
‘After the End’ will not be held in the same regard as some of the indie-pop classics that it is trying to pay homage to as it is two tracks shy of being a great album. Listen a little closer though and it does signpost the band’s new willingness (albeit, half-hearted) to reveal themselves for what they really are – makers of brilliantly formed angst-ridden, restless, gorgeous indie-pop rather than hardcore offerings.