Local power-punk trio Vampire Watching Television's eponymous debut EP is remarkably consistent. There is a razor-sharp precision to the production to match the tight playing of the performers. Instrumental opener 'Batman' establishes the basic gist from the get-go, fangs out. The frantic interplay between Guitarist Ethan (方米粉) and drummer 陳翰 recalls the high-speed horror movie riffs of Dead Kennedys, minus East Bay Ray's delay pedal, but channeled through the previous decade's garage revival. Outside of a cartoon, it is difficult to conjure an equivalent image of heads bobbing and limbs flailing so furiously, especially over songs that nonetheless manage to keep it together from sudden start to blistering finish.
The proof is in the packaging: a pulp portrait of the band plus angular stripes, all soaked in a blood-red/black-and-white palette, offers a pretty solid visual representation of this disc's sounds. A quick check of the track-listing and a little arithmetic confirm that the five songs clock in at a little over ten minutes, with titles that evoke violence. This characterization is most overt in the fourth track's succinct imperative to 'Kill' - in that (opened) vein, the final track's 'Magazine' might as well connote the ammunition clip of the titular trooper of Track Two ('I Am a Soldier You Are My Enemy'). To make the case for judging Vampire Watching Television by its EP's cover is to say that the group delivers on its promise. Rock 'n' Roll (in stark contrast to rock criticism) succeeds by getting to the point, especially when it renders that point increasingly obscure in the process (not altogether unlike rock criticism).
Did Vampire Watching Television name themselves after their best song, or vice versa? Ironically, it is this tune that strays furthest from some of the themes established through the other four tracks. Among other things, this de facto theme's sneaky placement at the (un)dead-center of the record might be the greatest irony of all. Where the others slash-and-burn-at-the-stake, 'Vampire Watching Television' builds genuinely thrilling tension. The buzzing bass of Ting (古古實), the group's secret weapon and nowhere on fuller display than this track, establishes the sense of an ascent, paradoxically by holding the same throbbing note. Bit by bit, the other instruments join-in, before the chord changes, and the song explodes to its bonafide, if messy, climax. In line with the internal contradictions of the song (including, fundamentally, the title's subversion of the aforementioned emphasis on boogeymen and violent action through the implicit passivity of staying home and watching TV), "You've gotta follow the law!" is the lone lyric during this purest punk expression of R'n'R fury, which Ethan screams again and again to great effect.
'Vampire Watching Television' (the song) utilizes two chords and its two and a half minute span to epic effect. One would be wise to check out Vampire Watching Television (the band) live not only to pick-up a copy of Vampire Watching Television (the new EP), but also on the off-chance of hearing its third track played twice in one set.
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