This Dinosaur Pile-Up article was written by Jack Roe, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Rachael Smith
Since their emergence with 2010’s ‘Growing Pains’, Dinosaur Pile-Up have appeared a band with no desire to reinvent the wheel. With a bag of tricks and a well worn copy of their ‘How to Write A Rock Song ’95’ textbook, they have entertained well enough without ever blowing minds. Their catalogue is full of solidly written and enjoyable songs that fans of the sub-pop driven Seattle scene and, more specifically, their more radio friendly descendants, could greet like an old friend.
It would appear, however, that since we last heard from Dinosaur Pile-Up that someone has severely knocked the band’s nose out of joint. The usual hallmarks are there, nevertheless: the vague, angst-flavoured introspection and super-fuzz guitar tones that you would expect. What might surprise you however is the crunch and bruise in some of these songs. If the mammoth sized riffs that run through this album are anything to go by, then it would seem that at least one band was paying close attention to Royal Blood‘s astonishing debut last year.
These are not songs that make you want to grab a cup of tea and watch a documentary about Fender Strat-wielding musicians in cardigans, rather these are songs that whip you into a frenzy and make you want to jump around. Songs that bypass your brain completely and give your neck muscles a workout and which turn writing implements into drumsticks and teacups into crash symbols.
In terms of production, this is a much cleaner and slicker sound than the band’s previous outings and contains a greater focus on the lower end frequencies, with the bass guitar front, centre and filthy during the album’s finest moments.
Speaking of finest moments, the fourth track from ‘Eleven Eleven’, ‘Friend of Mine’, is an absolute belter: driving and crunching and with excellent use of the old soft/loud trick, when at only two minutes twenty it turns up in the way of all good punk songs, sucker punches you and then walks out.
Having said all of that, there are a few issues with this album. What the band have gained in musicality, sneer and muscle they have lost in charm and have subsequently compromised their identity (see latter day Ash). Also, while they have always worn their influences unabashedly on their sleeves, the album does toe the line between deferential and derivative in places. ‘Grim Valentine’ for example is straight out of the Alice in Chains songbook with none of the menace. Also, the emotionless vocals and meandering lyrics, always something of a weakness with the band, are a letdown throughout and, as they are given focus by the production, that is a somewhat inescapable fact.
This is not a bad album by any means; however in this case that does not mean it is in fact a good album. While it is an update on the band’s sound, something which is always commendable and not always easy, the whole thing just seems a little bit too clean and shiny to work properly.