The Atlanta band releases their third full-length effort from their new, Sub Pop home. Changing labels seems to be purely administrative and has had little discernible effect on their sound. Networker simply becomes another slice of the same Post-Punk pie.
The press material issued with advanced listening copies of this album leads with a “For Fans Of” offering and cites This Heat, Gang of Four and Wire. The very concept of trying to promote something new and interesting but only having the ability to express its qualities through comparison of the pre-existing doesn’t sit well with me. Especially given that all three of the aforementioned are riding the revival wave of their own earlier influence. My discomfort with this descriptive parallel is compounded by its inaccuracy; if we’re to insist that this album sits in the shadows of any of those early icons, we’d be hitting the mark better were we to suggest they’re cast by Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Even then, it’s a tepid, watered-down version of the original, lacking the cocky swagger and epic scale of Marquee Moon.
I, of course, realise that’s not glowing praise but oddly that doesn’t make this an unlikeable record for me. I love Television. I love the bands that are allegedly in the undercurrent of Networker. This album isn’t what Sub Pop says it is but it is still a legitimate punt at it and that’s good enough for me.
We’ve got wiry, scratchy, angular guitars alongside groove-led basslines, all underpinned with skilful, regimented and unfussy drumming. That’s a broad sentence that could be the start of any review… add funk and we could be talking about ESG; add some African polyrhythms and we could be describing Talking Heads; add an angry/drunken Northerner and we could be chatting about The Fall. What I’m getting at is that this record is just “okay” and it seems to lack any key ingredient that could qualify it for any kind of musical greatness.
It’s a bit of a shame that the shift to a more prominent label hasn’t given the band a shot in the arm but that’s all… it’s just a shame; it isn’t the end of the world. If you’re expecting something groundbreaking and spectacular, this album is not it. If you’re happy with another Omni album then buy it.
Networker is out now on Sub Pop.