Album Review: Dance Gavin Dance, ‘Mothership’
Written by Alex Couts on October 28, 2016
photo courtesy of altpress.com
Scribed by: Alex Couts
Artist: Dance Gavin Dance
Record Label: Rise Records
The realm of Post-whatever-you-want-to-call-it-Core has become a really weird place to try to explore, rather to have grown up with. It’s tough to pick a place to start; some may want to start back in the 1980s/1990s with Fugazi, At the Drive-In or Lowercase, others with the early 2000s like Love, Lost, but Not Forgotten or Underoath. Maybe you’re stretching into the later 2000s/2010s with A Skylit Drive or (early) Of Mice & Men. Maybe you just have knowledge of today’s post-whatever-core scene. Regardless of this, the venture is even further expanded by the second axis that is genres in the Post(insert genre here)core scene. Some stick to the softer and math-ier sort of bands, CHON, Floral, and Polyphia holding down this extreme. While others hold to the heavier side of things, bordering territories of hardcore, such as The Chariot and Code Orange. With all of this going on, there lies a band that has found a way to seemingly combine all of it, toss in some R&B for flavor, and still manage to endure and sound stellar for over a decade.
Mothership has been the latest installment to the Dance Gavin Dance discography, and it does not disappoint. Between the swelling highs of “Betrayed By the Game” and “Deception,” to the soft layered lows of also Betrayed By the Game and Deception. It is difficult to say this record has highs and lows defined by certain songs, because most every song contains sharp contrasts between parts. There is no “slow section” of this record, instead most every song creates a spectrum of highs and lows within it’s self—with the exception of a few songs that are all highs.
While my prior comments make this record to contain strictly absolute bangers and hits—which I think it predominantly does—there are some weak points in it. If you’re into the notion of grown men screaming about cocaine and the coming holiday season to the sound of synths from an old Attack Attack! song, then “Flossie Dickie Bounce” was made for you. To everyone else that moved out of his or her middle school scene phase, “Flossie Dickie Bounce” is a major pitfall of the record. It’s so tough to come off of the swelling hook that is Tilian wailing “We were young and so jealous // and we let it all,” to an auto-tuned “coke-caaaane”. Thankfully, the next button is a real thing. Sorry, vinyl owners.
However, as to focus on the positives rather than dwell on the negatives, the record possesses some very strong parts. I still cannot comprehend the sounds that come from the muscles in Tilian’s throat—specifically on “Here Comes the Winner.” During the chorus and bridge, he is hitting a falsetto that is somewhere between a cry and a scream, and it blew me away the first time I heard it. I had to stop and listen to the song again just to make sure what I heard was real. To spread some light to other members; the riffing during songs “Petting Zoo Justice and Chucky vs The Giant Tortoise” are absolutely mind numbing and still frustrate me that so many of these songs are in standard tuning. Also, it is appropriate to share the spotlight with, you know, the OTHER vocalist. Jon Mess undoubtedly performs just as strongly as he has on past records, whether screaming about salsa or social satire. Seemingly shredding his vocal chords through every verse, and adding the needed grit to many of the songs.
In conclusion, “Mothership” is a solid addition to the Dance Gavin Dance discography that will win the hearts and ears of most every Dance Gavin Dance fan, possibly short of those adamant fans that still say, “Johnny was the best vocalist,”. To those people I say they need to listen this collection of songs. It has easily reached into my top 5 records released this year.