Merchandise Totale Night

MerchandiseTotale Night
While its '90s incarnation reduced it to a cartoon caricature of sad kids in makeup and black trench coats, goth spent its first decade as a major mainstream tributary. The guys in Merchandise know this, and mine many of that era's forgotten heroes (Siouxsie Sioux, the Sisters of Mercy) for sonic inspiration without the mopey theatrics that made the genre a four-letter word. Totale Nite maintains early goth's mercurial aesthetic and might as well be a direct sequel to the band's last record, Children of Desire — there are no major sonic shifts or lyrical breakthroughs that suggest they're working away from their initial aural template. Even its overall arc — short opener, a handful of six-minute-plus, long tracks — remains, but Totale Nite improves on its predecessor in almost everyway. The songwriting is tighter, the hooks stickier and the production crisper as they twist buzzy guitar hooks and driving, rudimentary drum machine beats into seven-minute jams like "Anxiety's Door," or the floating vibes of "I'll Be Gone." The Tampa crew might be painting themselves into a corner, but as of now, it's a comfortable one. (Night People)