Excessively Worthwhile Is Exactly That
by Alex Maiolo
Danish noise rock collective Collider has just released a complete banger of a record. Excessively Worthwhile may be the most appropriately self-descriptive title of the year.
MBV comparisons are to be expected, what with the seraphic male/female harmony interplay, though often with less reverb abuse, fewer stacked guitars, and more forward vocals. Think Glider and You Made Me Realize EPs rather than the ubiquitous Loveless. It’s also a sweeter affair, with an unapologetic ebullience in place of the Valentines’ vagueness.
The 90s loom large in other ways too. Fans of both Dinosaur Jr. and They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons-era Swirlies will find a lot to love, especially in regard to the latter’s turn-it-all-on-a-dime philosophy. Not since Mew’s early efforts has a Danish band been so committed to embracing the chaos. Saint Petersburg’s Pinkshinyultrablast is, perhaps, the only other band who has worked so comfortably in this space recently.
It seems like a difficult job playing in Collider. With as much swagger as any of the post-rock and post punk greats ever displayed, they seem to have zero issues with adding a meter skip here, key change there, or a skid-stop turnaround. No production decision is off limits either. Flange this bit for five seconds, put helicopter tremolo on the post-chorus guitar part, explore Lydia Lunch-style vocal histrionics for one verse, don’t bin the false start, and for fuck’s sake, whatever you do, do not lay off the glide-guitar whammy bar.
Dear listener, you get all of this, jazz chords, and a smattering of flute in the deal too.
All of this may sound like Collider is just a hot mess of pre-millennium references. Not the case at all, though I’ve felt the band has been less focused in the past. I accidentally stumbled upon them when I went to see a stacked bill at Pumpehuset about five years ago. Admittedly, I was a little overwhelmed by the time signature assaults, instrument changes, and songs that often sounded like Pavement falling down a flight of stairs. Every time I latched onto something, they snatched it from my grip. It felt like I was on some untested psychedelic drug. Right when I thought I’d finally secured a seat on their train, the show was over. I wanted to rewind the tape, and experience it again, a little more prepared this time. That sometimes frustrating first exposure had caught my attention, though, I’ll give it that.
The chance for a do-over came later. I caught a performance at SPOT Festival, where it seemed like they had dialed something in. Maybe I was just better equipped, but it felt like the group was one point further along an upward trajectory. However, even at that sometimes confusing first show I was enamored of the band’s collective feel. Some of the more scattered sections also felt like everyone’s ideas were being considered all at once.
Like Amon Düül for a new generation, minus the doom.
At some point I knew I wanted to join their cult.
Excessively Worthwhile shoots out of the gate with “Cystic,” which acts as not only a combination overture and mission statement for the EP, but also nicely merges with their past work, with its washy passages, and pleasantly shambolic moments. The rest of the record has the inertia of a band peaking. Maturing, but with the excitement of group that still has a lot to explore and give. There are sweet, pop moments in “They Spent No,” which almost nods towards 70s AM radio for milliseconds at a time, and in “Turn You,” with its summer sun sonics. The pocket-sized odyssey “Let’s Be Lost” has the energy of Pale Saints at their best, had they subsisted on a steady diet of robusta coffee and not much else. “Slung Out In The Blank” is probably best experienced, rather than described but, if pressed, I’d say imagine listening to Dirty-era Sonic Youth after downing a bottle of cough syrup. This is meant as a compliment, if that’s not obvious.
The whole thing feels like everyone involved understood the directive. Hat tip to Oliver Matthew Volz for symbiotic production work.
At any given time in Denmark there are exciting clusters of activity. With apologies to Stockholm, Copenhagen remains the cultural capital of Scandinavia, and in the middle of some play-it-safe, paint-by-numbers pop that is to be expected in any city, there is some truly bonkers shit being made by bands like The Entrepreneurs, LINN, Poptones, Shiny Darkly, and Collider.
At this point I’d be surprised if Excessively Worthwhile doesn’t make my end-of-year list, even after the honeymoon wears off.
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