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Turnstile - Time & Space LP

Turnstile - Time & Space LP

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Turnstile’s fans—at least in the colorful imagination of their haters—are a legion of spin-kicking sycophants splayed akimbo in mid-air devotion, cheering the thrash-funk and rap-rock that surely no savvy hardcore fan misses. But the Baltimore-anchored five-piece deserves credit for riling these hardcore purists, who often sound like musical xenophobes when they decry outside influence. The backlash against the group also seems to stem from the presumption that the popular and resonant music of one’s adolescence—in this case, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deftones, and 311—is categorically irredeemable as an adult. But Turnstile’s unlikely rise to a nationally adored major-label act shows hardcore’s nascent poptimism: Fans’ latent fondness for the alt-rock radio of their youth is resurfacing in their affection for Turnstile, even if they’re quick to point out, a smidge defensively, that the band cites its debts to lumpen bruisers such as Madball alongside Rage Against the Machine.

But the “experimentation” advertised on Time & Space, Turnstile’s third album and first for Warner Bros. imprint Roadrunner, is hesitant and unfocused. Instead of woven throughout the album, the flourishes are like mismatched ornamentation, out of place. To wit, Diplo’s synth squiggles on “Right to Be” are a celebrity cosign, not a touch of boldness. The 25-second R&B sketch “Bomb,” echoing the Gap Band’s hit “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” is a derailment, not a detour. The album also includes an interlude called “Disco” and the cover sports a disco ball. Unless it’s about selling pre-order bundles, which come with a disco ball keychain, this theme is mystifying. Certainly, none of the songs themselves sound inspired by disco, and the imagery isn't imaginative enough to compensate for the record’s fundamental shortcomings. It’s not exactly the conceptual, post-hardcore verve of Fucked Up. Even relieved of these distractions, Time & Space is actually a punishingly familiar collision of yesteryear's crossover rock with textbook hardcore bluster.

Turnstile developed the sloshing hi-hats and mid-tempo strut of its early EPs into a more careening sound on 2015’s Nonstop Feeling, with vocalist Brendan Yates adopting a syncopated, Anthony Kiedis-style yawp atop blocky riffs and zigzagging solos. A perceptive troll listed Hot Action Cop’s sub-Limp Bizkit rap-rock hit “Fever for the Flava” as “Turnstile 'NONSTOP FEELING’” on YouTube; it has 12,000 views. Perhaps chastened, Yates raps less these days. Time & Space has more lift than Nonstop Feeling, with texture and contour conveyed by tuneful backup vocals, tambourine, and handclaps where they’re unexpected. “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind” is like Deftones with more low-end, while “Moon,” on which bassist Franz Lyons charismatically croons, is an outlying bit of spritely pop-punk. The tasteful overdubs, along with dynamic mixing, rescue some songs, such as “Generator,” from feeling aggressively antiseptic.