It’s hard to put a finger on what Total Control is about because on any given album the Australian band nimbly jumps from electronic synth, à la Gary Numan, to being drum-driven punk rippers. And that’s their appeal to me, their disregard of genre in exchange for vibe, which seems like more of an exercise in creative freedom than punk strictures usually permit. This incredibly well-executed music — moody, angry, synthy, future punk — somehow maintains continuity through it all, which adds up to a really cohesive body of work that isn’t easy to find with other bands.
I got into Total Control because it was started by Mikey Young, whose band Eddy Current Suppression Ring was more meat and potatoes rock, but still felt like something new. Laughing at the System has a weird resigned feeling about it, sort of post-hope or something, but it’s also pretty enough with a continued focus and tight execution. My favorite track, “Laughing at the System Pt. 2,” is the catchiest, which may mean I have a shallow affinity for hooks, but also might speak to Total Control’s ability to deliver the proverbial goods with guitars and acoustic drums, for which I continue to be a sucker.