Here’s one of the most telling aspects of The (International) Noise Conspiracy’s 2000 release Survival Sickness: as the second full length and one of over 19 releases since their inception in 1998, it is one of the few low points in their catalogue.
Which isn’t to say the album isn’t any good, or doesn’t have redeeming qualities or songs. It does.
And it has some strong personal ties for me: second track “The Subversive Sound” is the first T(I)NC song I ever had the pleasure of hearing, and thus holds a special place in my appreciation for the band.
It’s just that, even with former Refused lead vocalist Dennis Lyxzen at the helm, bringing his typically political lyrics, and acting as early adopters of the garage rock sound that was about to “blow up” in the mainstream, Survival Sickness sees the band still cultivating the sound that would resonate with some fans left longing for more Refused.
The politics and occasional bursts of frenetic energy is right about where the similarities between the two bands stop, though. Refused was almost always about sheer onslaught. Meanwhile, Survival Sickness is brought up on its B-side by “Will It Ever Be Quiet?”, a meandering and surprisingly stripped-down song.
And yet, even in this sort of gestational period, the band shows flashes of genius that would compel listeners on A New Morning, Changing Weather just one year later. It would be so tough, almost impossible, to try to figure out what transpired in the year between those two albums because of how different they are. New Morning sounds exponentially more pissed off, to the point of making Survival Sickness look like a goofy kid brother with its geeky keyboards and rambunctious enthusiasm.
Regardless of the reason for this speedy maturation, Survival Sickness will stick with me largely due to its presence in the formative years of my musical tastes. It’s good for a nostalgic spin every once and again, but its follow-up blows it out of the water.
From Survival Sickness, this is “I Wanna Know About U” –
Standout tracks: “The Subversive Sound” and “The Reproduction of Death” and “(I’ve Got) Survival Sickness”
Weakest track: “Intermission” is spacey, and at face value, appears to fit, but I don’t think it does. For a non-instrumental track, “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
RIYL: Jazz punk, dancey punk, 60s-influenced rock, garage rock. Dennis Lyxzen. Refused in another time period. The Hives,