Album Review: Dinosaur Pile-Up - Growing Pains (Friends VS Records)
Dumb, one-dimensional and regressive...but the trio's debut is also one hell of an exciting listenMore on Dinosaur Pile-up
Having said that, seeing as most of the attention focused on them thus far has focused on their being either (kindly) grunge revivalists or (unkindly) Nirvana copyists, it’s worth making clear that ‘Growing Pains’ is significantly better than either description suggests. Sure, there’s more than a hint of the Cobain in the ragged guitars and slightly self-centred lyrical conceits, but rather than just aping Nirvana they instead share similar influences – particularly Pixies and Melvins – as well as update the mid-’90s college rock sound that Archers Of Loaf, Guided By Voices and Built To Spill made their own. For example, the 1-2-3-4-go frenzy of ‘Barce-loner’ and ‘Love To Hate Me’’s dynamics (not so much quiet/loud as loud/really fucking loud) show they can tie melodies to heft without either feeling bolted on, and opener ‘Birds & Planes’ is a slice of pure pop dressed up in noise. And when they go really chuggy, as on ‘Broken Knee’ and ‘My Rock And Roll’, it’s never long before a buoyant chorus perks things up; basically, DP-U know the redemptive power of jumping around your bedroom while shouting, and have filled their entire debut with songs that should lead directly to said activity. Unfortunately, the desire to keep things unchallenging does backfire: ‘Mona Lisa’ strives for edginess but ends up little more than a nagging melody subtitled by head-nod drums, and ‘Never That Together’ is so numbingly repetitive that even the band sound bored playing it.
Lyrically, themes of boredom, frustration, boredom and frustration abound (and there’s actually a song called ‘Hey Man’), but it’s testament to the way the songs are put together that they don’t sound whining or annoying. Instead, it’s more like DP-U are aware they’re not reinventing the wheel in any way whatsoever and are embracing simplicity. ‘Growing Pains’ sounds like three mates jamming out in a small, hot room. As such, it’s full of bad decisions, rough edges and barely contained energy, and it fizzes and pops and has all the impetuousness and joy of being young and owning a shitty guitar.
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