A funny release, surly, diffident, not really interested in its listeners, or so it seems: (interesting that they quote the semi-adolescent yearnings of Eliot’s Love Song of Alfred Prufrock in the sleeve notes). However, Totaled has enough power about it to win you over, especially if you stick with it and see past the veneer of 17 Seconds-era Cure stylings which are daubed liberally about this LP.
Nothing jumps out at you, there are no highs and lows, and the sleeve art (of a broken down Porsche) is an apt visual metaphor. The opener, Oceans trundles into view, the slushy vocals & delay on the guitar giving a very druggy feel to the track. The dark, sludgy vibe is carried on through the buzz of Look Alive and Lapis Lazuli (which just about raises its head from the pillow to greet you, such is its sloth), through tracks like the murky Parlous Siege and Chapel, or the fuzzy Heaven World Destroyer right through to the end on the aptly named (and fairly chirpy for Totaled), Dog Days.
This is a very claustrophobic, paranoid record (you can guess it from titles like Never Been Better) but there are moments of sleepy beauty such as Excessive Moonlight and the gloopy, ghostly parade of Diamond Things. Tono Bungay toys with mixing a quiet Autobahn vibe against some Will Sergeant style guitar licks; and very attractive it is too. But Totaled is not an LP to listen to if you’re feeling restless that’s for sure. It’s an obsessive, brave record, purely because it must take a hell of a lot of guts to repeatedly drag & elucidate these sorts of feelings at such a slow pace through an album’s worth of songs.