Does It Offend You, Yeah?
You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into
Does It Offend You, Yeah? like doing things the hard way. They called themselves Does It Offend You, Yeah? for a start, thus inviting daily Nathan Barley gags before they’d even seen the show. They’ve embarked on their famequest with two hired hands; drummer Rob and mainman Morgan are reputedly only on contract for a year, leaving the band open to the possibility of losing their frontman to his side-project, Plugs.
Now, rather than releasing 2008’s equivalent of Justice’s ‘†’, and condensing their rock/rave hybrid into a scorching debut, they’ve risked overreaching themselves. Maybe their over-ambitiousness is all Klaxons’ fault. By melding disparate genres together while still harnessing a pop sensibility on ‘Myths Of The Near Future’, they set the bar incredibly high for bands of a similar ilk. On the evidence of their debut, DIOYY want a piece of their precursors’ pie: the Mercury Prizes, the transatlantic messianic status and the celeb endorsements. So what began as an effort to bolster two blokes with laptops into a full rock band proposition has burgeoned, no doubt spurred on by the industry vultures that swarm every hyped new band, into an album that tries to please everyone at once. Worst of all, though, it has a crack at mastering ‘pop’. Thus we have ‘Being Bad Feels Pretty Good’, which, despite its bass slaps, cowbell hits and searing guitar lines, remains a pretty flimsy ’80s pop pastiche. Meanwhile, ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ is either a heartwrenching classic or vapid parody depending on what your feelings about the use of digital steel drums in a song are. Elsewhere, ‘Doomed Now’ sees vocoders singing full-track vocal lines like robots taking part in Skynet Idol and is aimed at Daft Punk but can’t quite shake off Cher.
That’s not to say there isn’t anything positive here – there is. For starters, there’s the triumvirate of insanely brilliant tracks to which we’ve been straining our already-abused jugulars in fits of headbanging for the last year: ‘Battle Royale’, ‘We Are Rockstars’, ‘Weird Science’.
The latter doesn’t know if it wants to be Goose, Soulwax or the backing track for Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, but hits out at MySpace posturing like a ‘Hey Scenesters!’ from 2012. ‘Weird Science’ meanwhile – named after the John Hughes film of the same name – is the Kelly LeBrock of the album, the monstrous creation of two computer nerds and the perfect mashed hybrid of digital noises. It sounds like a baby Roland synth being burped by its very bored teen mum. Which is basically what ‘Battle Royale’ is, albeit with end-of-level fanfares and ghostly quivers thrown on top.
That’s even before we get started on the new(er) tracks. The words of ‘Let’s Make Out’ might prove, like much of the album, that Does It Offend You’s lyrics are only Skins deep (“I can’t control myself when I see you/There’s no-one else/When I get down all by myself you’re the one that I think about”), but who really gives a fuck when they’re stomping round the dancefloor air-tambourining and fornicating with thin air?
‘With A Heavy Heart (I Regret To Inform You)’, meanwhile, thrusts you into a chair and spits “Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, ohGodohGod” into your ears while gleefully cranking the synth dials up and up and up like a demented sound engineer torturer. It’s equal parts Ghost Frequency horror, Daft Punk militancy and Interzone intensity. At the other end of the album ‘Epic Last Song’ sees them finally nail an experimental pop classic and revels in the studio trickery that pervades this debut, even if it does somewhat reinvent the term ‘epic’ as it clocks in at just four-and-a-half minutes long.That this debut tries for so much and almost achieves it all is to be applauded. However, in trying to run before they can walk, DIOYY have missed out on making the classic this could have been.