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Turnstile - Time & Space (Album Review)

Friday, 02 March 2018 Written by Jennifer Geddes

Turnstile probably didn’t make their second record, ‘Time & Space’, by melting their dads’ record collections into a mound of congealed plastic and shouting over the remains. It sounds like they did, though. With its mash-up of hardcore punk and everything from boogie rock riffs to lounge music, it’s a weird mix. It shouldn’t work but it does and, like melting plastic, it’s a lot of fun.

The meat and potatoes of the band is still their hardcore streak. Frontman Brendan Yates shouts his way through tracks like a teenager whose hormones are raging. Beneath the bravado and anger, though, lies a hurt and lost soul. “Keep on holding, but the words I want to hide,” he yells on High Pressure. “But, it's much too much, too much to keep it all inside.”

The band still favour groovy riffs over furious thrashing, with heavy bass and drums acting as a steady driving force behind whatever musical curveball the melody decides to throw out. Real Thing chugs along with a Fugazi-style bass riff until it switches at the end to a gentle swing rhythm that wouldn’t be out of place in an elevator or supermarket.

Bomb and Disco are both soft, jazzy interludes. They feel like they belong in that clichéd scene in an action flick where the gun fight stops and the characters have to act casual because some regular people have walked in. They add a moment of light humour in the dark, and that’s generally how the band play it.

Big Smile initially seems like a standard hardcore track before they throw in a riff that would make ZZ Top cheerful, while by the end of Generator they could be mistaken for a Killing Joke cover band with their very ‘80s sounding guitars. There is even Elton John-style piano bashing on High Pressure, mixed with straight up hair metal riffs.

While these moments provide relief they aren’t really played for laughs. There’s no video where the band all dress up in silly costumes and hide their appreciation behind jokes, like in pop-punk. These guys clearly love this music, and why not? They’ve taken the fun stuff we all secretly love and thrown it all together: big guitar solos, massive chugging bass riffs, crazy piano chords.

Surprisingly, for a band who clearly don’t do subtlety, they keep quiet about the things others might shout about. Sheer Mag’s Tina Halladay appears on Moon as a backing vocalist, but her appearance is brief and uncredited. Similarly, EDM producer Diplo worked on Right To Be but it features none of his signature sounds. It came about simply from an appreciation of the band’s music.

The fact the Turnstile can work with a producer like Diplo and not be overshadowed shows that, despite the chaotic references and constantly switching melodies, this band know exactly what they want to sound like. They aren’t afraid to be exactly who they want to be, even if that flies against what’s generally expected of a hardcore band.

Listening to ‘Time & Space’, there’s actually a great sense of release in just dropping all pretence and going with it. After all, what’s more punk than saying: ‘This is who I am, take it or leave it.’

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