The Death Set Worldwide

[Counter; 2008]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: kids on ritalin, food fights, pixie stix
Others: Atari Teenage Riot, Bis, The Sex Pistols

Featuring a rotating cast of characters revolving around the inspiration of sole original member Johnny Siera, The Death Set have called everywhere from Australia to New York home, but their new digs in Baltimore makes complete sense. After a succession of EPs, their first full-length Worldwide captures the whirling WTF intensity of their Wham City cohorts to a T. These songs don't take their time; they pummel you and give you a purple nurple before you've gotten past the first song.

Built around Siera's screeching, self-referential vocals, and a wall of feedback, songs like lead single "Negative Thinking" and "Intermission" cram all of the best parts of ’80s new wave and ’77 Brit punk into two minutes or less. That's the thing about The Death Set. They seem to be having fun at their own expense, embracing skits and a rapper's bravado throughout the record, and that's partly why one shouldn't take this album too seriously. "MFDS" and the aforementioned "Intermission" give shouts to themselves repeatedly, which, oddly enough, works, creating a sound both old and new, underground and mainstream, all with a playful wink.

Worldwide doesn't really stray from its formula -- Alec Empire-esque screams over monotone melodies, bouncy guitars, and keyboard lines -- but it doesn't lack because of this either. The cohesion and tracklisting of this record is crucial to its appeal. Despite it being an amalgam of singles from old EPs and newer songs, Worldwide has the right amount of tension and release in its long-playing form. Right when you start to feel a little worn out by the spastic shouts and clouds of noise, they drop the one-two punch of album standouts "Around the World" and "Impossible" on you. "Around the World" serves up the best M.O. The Death Set could ever hope for: "We go around the world and we do what must be done/ It's a top secret mission having everybody wishing that they had a bigger gun," sing Siera and former fulltime member Beau Velasco over a groove reminiscent of Wire armwrestling Dick Dale.

The only thing keeping The Death Set from being remarkably original is the repetition of Siera's beloved drum machine. It serves its purpose well, but the addition of actual drums, which have since become a live staple for the band, would've added needed muscle to some of the album's less inspired tracks. Overall, The Death Set pull it off , because even with the weak spots, they follow with great tunes like "Had a Bird," showcasing their range and what we might be able to expect from them if they come down from the sugar rush.

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