wo years can be a long time to wait. In Controller.Controller’s case, two years is either far too long or not long enough. With their stellar 2004 EP, History, they put themselves on the map of a still-popular-but-floundering dancepunk scene. A follow-up LP in that year might have found them a wider and more enthused audience. But rather than tossing off a rushed effort to attempt to crash the house party filled with jealous lovers, they waited until early 2006 (late 2005 for those living in Controller.Controller’s native land of Canada) to unleash their full-length debut. X-amounts proves that it was worth the wait.
For anyone who has heard Controller.Controller before, you know that the most intriguing thing that they bring to the table with their sound is Nirmala Basnayake, whose deep female vocals bring not only a softer sound, but also a more melodic and articulate one. Theirs is a well-designed sound, though—they seem to understand how each of the band’s five members can contribute without overshadowing or detracting from their overall sonic union. Sure, they may not boast the bass levels or cowbell prowess of a Rapture or LCD Soundsystem, they do hold trump if only for the fact that they rarely make a wrong step.
“Tigers Not Daughters,” the disc’s opener, is a slow-building groove that serves more as an appetizer for the quicker and catchier following tracks, “PF” and “Poison/Safe.” The latter of which feels like “Tigers”’ with a shot of adrenaline to it, as if they were doing take two after the faster paced drumming of “PF” got them going. “PF” is an excellent track in its own right: here we find the two lead guitars gleefully flirting back and forth with Basnayake’s lyrics (“Let’s plan small secrets / Let’s hold a surprise / Let’s build and evil genius / And keep warm tonight.”). Luckily, “Poison/Safe” lets you know that Basnayake and company aren’t here to tease (using fuller guitar melodies behind lines like “Watch out now, I’m in your sheets”).
“Straight In The Head” continues with the striking melodies, while Basnayake and the lead guitar play a little echoing / call-and-response duet. “Heavy As A Heart” offers up possibly the single most danceable track on the album, upping the BPMs a little closer to History’s levels, giving a listeners a taste of what might have been had the band rushed out a full-length after all. “BLK GLV” offers a two-minute Juan Maclean-esque break in the action, but oddly transitions into the most somber moment of the album: “The Raw No.” While a little off-putting at first, the latter third of the song does build itself into a redeemable state of being. “Magnetic Strip,” the album’s closing statement, ventures a little more into psych-rock aspects (think Black Mountain’s “No Hits” if it had a danceable beat) and does an excellent job of wrapping the whole package up tightly together.
Though the time has come and gone for dancepunk to blow up, it has (hopefully) given way to a time where solid efforts in that vein should be able to be appreciated without being scrutinized as “another sub-genre disappointment.” The two years that Controller.Controller took in producing new material appear to have given them time to focus on their strength of balancing their sound instead of amping the beats and throwing some guitars overtop. Good on them.
Reviewed by: Matt Sheardown
Reviewed on: 2006-03-17