With their decadent new release, Talking Sporty, Times Neue Roman cut a long slit down an elegant dress and remind those who would dismiss so-called “nintendo-rap” that sometimes the senses are drawn most to what’s not there. Stripped down to the barest digits, the sparsity at the core of these songs serves primarily to clear a space for the style to ooze through. Alexander The’s brash staccato beats hold up a mirror to the percussive precision of Arowbe Arowbe Arowbe’s vocals, and while there is always a paradoxical danger with any of the most metronomic music that it can start to drag, here the duo are content to let lush lyrics take the wheel and drive the tracks along. Far from aiming to provide what the lyricist describes as “the customary narrative or braggadocio content a rap vocal might usually tote,” Times Neue Roman utilizes the vocal instrument for shape, mood, and dressing.
Whatever the emphasis on creating space, though, this is music that consciously craves an audience, and above all else, Times Neue Roman seem intent on opening up that extra room for the audience to pile into. Listeners, envisioned by Arowbe Arowbe Arowbe as “spruce and dapper,” are elevated to participants in standout tracks ‘Roq Roq’ and ‘Hands No Hands’, as each drip of sweat that leaps off the stage and into the front row helps to put the human element back into a style of music that can be accused of being too electronic or glitchy. This is a release that teems with playfulness and energy, slapping glossy paint all over the art deco geometry that underlies each track.
With Times Neue Roman’s raucous live shows fast becoming one of the worst kept secrets in Toronto, it might be tempting to say they’ve cleaned up nicely for this, their most polished release to date. Cleaned up? They’ve simply cleared the room of all its furniture, covered the walls in colour, and flung open the front door.
Tags: Times Neue Roman