A bold step to take, it needed to happen.
Label: So Recordings
Released: 16th October 2015
Despite all their support slots, strong – if simple – songs, and bulldozing choruses, Dinosaur Pile-Up have never quite made the mainstream breakthrough they’ve always threatened. Maybe it’s because the zeitgeist is not with scuzzy, 90s-esque rock, or maybe it’s that the mainstream takes itself too seriously to stop overthinking DPU’s joyous racket, but for whatever reason, Matt Bigland has arrived at album three with it all still to play for.
‘Eleven Eleven’ then sees DPU taking a somewhat more earnest tack, stepping off the fence between goofy and serious, even mirroring this in the guitar tones on the record. Less wall-of-distortion in a Smashing Pumpkins or Deftones vein and tighter, drier and heavier, it recalls Queens of the Stone age to some degree and completely changes the character of their characteristic drop-tuned chord progressions.
Lead single ’11:11′ is actually a pretty good representation of the album, subtly taking a sound that is recognisably DPU and yet giving it a minor-key twist. The effect, at its most atmospheric, is to almost recall Filter’s ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot’, Tool’s ‘Aenima’ or Nine Inch Nails around the period of ‘With Teeth’. Despite these touches, which recur throughout the record, their sound remains more full-on, straight-up rock than the influences they tap.
‘Red and Purple’, ‘Gimme Something’ and ‘Anxiety Trip’ are powerful tracks that at once echo classic DPU as well as this new taught, serious edge, while ‘Bad Penny’ is the closest the album comes to first-LP tracks like ‘Mona Lisa’ that originally made their name. ‘Friend of Mine’ and ‘Nothing Personal’ are closest in tone to the ‘Nature Nurture’ tracks, and by mixing the heavier impulses with big vocal harmonies largely overshadow ballad-like ‘Might As Well’ and ‘Cross My Heart’ in terms of impact.
None of this is to say that Dinosaur Pile-Up have become less fun; they’re just fun in a different way, the way that loud, fast, give-a-fuck music is inherently exciting. Whether or not this serious turn resonates with a wider audience remains to be seen, but though it’s a bold step to take, it needed to happen sooner or later. Alex Lynham