In a live setting, Total Control deliver a searing physical assault. By contrast, the Melbourne group’s second LP,Typical System, flaunts an intricately constructed glossy exterior, which is a considerable progression from the squalid post-punk of 2011’sHenge Beatand the monochrome electronics of their early singles.

At times a pointillistic colouring of synths, drum programming and horns fills the landscape. Then there’s lead single ‘Flesh War’ and closing number ‘Safety Net’, which proficiently warrant the ‘synthpop’ tag.

Yet amid all of the disciplined decoration, frontman Daniel Stewart still reports on a grim reality. At certain points the music forcibly compounds the singer’s frustration. For instance, in ‘Expensive Dog’, the barked refrain “Bow to that which falls over you” is answered by an austere guitar-led battle march. Nevertheless, even when the lyrical targets are most explicit – namely in ‘Systematic Fuck’ and ‘Liberal Party’ – Stewart isn’t averse to melody. His curt baritone does, however, preclude any new-wave mawkishness.

Typical System is the sound of a band positively subsumed under the songs it’s playing. The update in fidelity isn’t an attempt at crossover success; it’s done out of commitment to the ideas being expressed. And if anything, it will allow Total Control to burrow further into the collective psyche.


Typical Systemis out now through Independent / Inertia.

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