Take the vocals of a slightly more feminine-sounding version of Stevie Nicks, mix a subdued yet danceable beat conveniently coheased with the driving melodic bass lines and some distant-sounding solid guitar work and you have Controller Controller.
Hailing from Toronto, the five-piece can’t necessarily be filed away among the teeming columns of today’s dance-punk artists or wanna-be new wave ressurections, nor can they be called a sound all their own. The nomenclature of modern music is a ridiculous manner of trying to decipher the sound.
Suffice it to say, “X-Amounts” is an enjoyable listen. It reminisces some great new wave, without being dangerously repetitive. The layering of ambient noise fused with introductory beat cadences and building emotion seem offset by the subdued nature of lead singer Nirmala Basnyake’s voice. Despite this, it works as a cohesive group of groove-oriented tracks.
The album begs for Basnyake to take her voice further in certain circumstances. Such as the shout for warning on “Poison/Safe” when she builds emotion behind the repeated lines “Tell all your friends it was me, and tell all your friends you told me. Watch out now, I’m in your sheets.” Her voice is believable, but the recording doesn’t do justice to the emotion the song deserves.
The guitars seem to take a reverbed-up back seat to the powerful drum and bass combination. With all the layering of other aspects of the songs, it’s rare that the guitars are layered more than one or two deep. It makes you want to crawl into the production studio and turn the guitar amps up to 11. That little oomph is what this disc lacks to be a record of the year, but its content more than makes up for the small shortcomings.
The anthem-like lyrics of “City of Daggers” combines with dance hits to gently distract and keep a steady-moving undercurrent of an innate desire to move around to the music.
Controller Controller plays at the Echo in L.A. March 12 in preparation for the upcoming South by Southwest festival.