Release Date: October 9th, 2015
Label: Buzz Records
Back in 2006 when Tokyo Police Club’s “Nature of the Experiment” was still fresh–it still is a jam with the occasional listen–Dave Monks, the vocalist and brother of Katie Monks, had a lyric regarding one’s character:
“It’s not the way my mother talks.”
Temperament and general discussion of nature and nurture are incredibly important. On one hand, you have the lax, joyous rollercoaster that’s in Tokyo Police Club songs, while on the other you have the banshee cries–some would argue that they’re more trash compactor-y–of Dilly Dally. Both indicate that influences are important and that not everyone in a family functions the same way. The latter band did have a cover album, so it’s not farfetched for Dave to play Katie’s songs and vice-versa. In short, both bands embrace their sound wholly.
But Dilly Dally doesn’t only have Katie at its helm. Jimmy Tony’s bass can be, at times, gravelly (“Ballin’ Chain”), which emphasizes the roughness of the band’s grungy approach. Benjamin Reinhartz’ drums have the ability to catapult right into the action (“Purple Rage”). Monks–from this point on we’re talking about the wonderfully tough Katie–not only douses listeners with her sludgy vocals, but also distorts her aural terrain with a rough guitar presence. The band’s secret weapon, however, is Liz Ball whose melodic guitar can be both dreamy a la Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” (“Desire”) or melancholic (“The Touch”).
These elements, when at their full potential, really make “Desire” shine, especially when the song reaches its peak at the last minute, complete with ghastly sighs and a fitting solo. It’s a song about desires, whether they focus on notions of taking the world on, sex, or, heck, ice cream, and because of that listeners are left desiring more of that band unity. The band is pretty much Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim vs The World if such a band existed and were totally (soft) grungy instead of sounding like they’re always in a garage. “Ballin’ Chain” continues this synchronicity of grimy, loud sound with its appropriate sonic drops into shadow and obsessed, sedated vocals. When Monks screams, the band thrusts their own into a collective hell.
But whenever the band sounds like they’re not committed to this hellish journey and when sonic choices feel dull, this make the listeners concentrate on singular aspects like lyrics rather than the complete sound of the band. For instance, “Snake Head” falls into this problem of not very interesting instrumentation yet fair lyrics talking about drug use and apathy, both keystones of grunge. “Next Gold,” a track which has some dream pop-influenced vocalizing, is another case of one aspect gaining more concentration. Everything about this band should crash into their audience, generating an interest in the wholesome sound that Dilly Dally can generate–because with tracks like “Desire” and “The Touch,” a song that has a great drum and bass combo that resonates in a way that’s reminiscent to Metric’s “Monster Hospital,” by the way–there’s a clear demonstration of chaos. It also would help if songs didn’t end so abruptly (“Purple Rage” and “Witch Man”).
The band shows a grasp on creating lyrics that can actually beckon a crowd of people to scream out. When Monks yelps “I wanna change” for the first time on “Purple Rage,” audiences of the future are already channelling their alienation into something that turns into a temporary badge. Brows raise when Monks calls out the “bitch man” in “Witch Man,” while cold hearts feel abnormally warmer in “Green” when Monks utters “I need food / And I need light/ And, dammit, I need you.” Liz Ball finds her way through these parts and more with her almost flawless guitar presence (“Ice Cream” deserves a mention in this regard, too).
The pieces where the band contributes their complete griminess to the dirty art work that is Sore are those that highlight that the band are more than just their influences. The solution to the problem of sounding sometimes dull shouldn’t lie in the conclusion of sounding muddier than before. But it helps if there were some more lunacy in the mixture. That said, Dilly Dally have a good thing going with Sore.
Do an evil slow dance to “Witch Man.” It’s possible.