Band: Dinosaur Pile-Up
Album: Celebrity Mansions
Release Date: 7th June, 2019
Review by John
Though the weather stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the fact, summer is here. And every good summer deserves the perfect soundtrack. Dinosaur Pile-Up are here to provide exactly that.
If you’re familiar with the band then there won’t be too many surprises from this, their fourth full length offering as they stick to exactly what they do best. But when it sounds this good, why change it?
‘Celebrity Mansions’ is an unashamed celebration of the best or early 90s grunge and alternative rock, coming across like a team bonding weekend of paintballing featuring the best bits of the likes of Weezer and Foo Fighters, without all the horribly bland and formulaic filler that both bands have become guilty of in recent years.
‘Thrash Metal Cassette’ gets us started and is a typically schizophrenic offering, applying a nice blend of the heavy with some catchy pop harmonies. Lyrically cynical and sarcastic, it is impossible not to picture yourself sat our in the sun, cold beer in hand, singing along at the top of your voice. And they even find time for a Japanese schoolgirl style chant. This is unmistakably Dinosaur Pile-Up at their best.
Across the album there’s a real sense of fun, albeit tinged with a hint at darker matters, with a refusal to compromise musically.
From the pop punk on steroids sound of ‘Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk’, a musical love note that simply oozes charm and likeability, to the almost mournful anthem that is the title track, taking shots at the struggle for instant fame amid the rise of bland celebrity culture.
There’s a more serious feel to the beautifully structured ‘Round The Bend’, a song that engaged me on a truly emotional level, dealing with issues of struggling with yourself mentally, trying to find a way to open up and make people understand what you’re going through.
This is then beautifully counterpointed with the Feeder-esque ‘Black Limousine’, which urges those struggling to never give up. To some (myself included) these will become deeply personal favourites.
‘K West’ is probably the most out and out DPU song on offer here, harking back to the sound of their debut EP and album. It’s jaunty, bouncy and fun, with echoes lyrically of Weezer’s ‘Beverly Hills’, providing a fun take on the cult of celebrity.
One thing the band have always been good at is finding the perfect way to close an album and, while not quite recapturing the sheer genius of ‘All Around The World’ and ‘Nature/Nurture’ (from their first two albums), ‘Long Way Down’ still ensures that the album ends on just the right note.
The only jarring note here is ‘Back Foot’, a strange blend of almost spoken word, with a chorus that bounces with energy. It’s a strange track where, for me, the more musical interludes sound great, but don’t gel with the pseudo rap-rock elements which fall way short and mar the overall sound. A shame, as when it’s good, ‘Back Foot’ is really good, and certainly ends well. It’s just that the whole is far less than the sum of the parts.
Overall, it’s another solid effort from a band who don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve. You almost get the feeling that they are a band out of their time – had they been around in the early 90s then I have no doubt that they would have been huge.
But for now they are where they are, and doing a damn good job of it. By album number four, two of their big influences (the aforementioned Weezer and Foo Fighters) were already starting on the slippery descent to mediocrity. On this evidence, Dinosaur Pile-Up are headed in the complete opposite direction.
A perfect summer soundtrack, even for a middle-aged old cynic like me. If only I was 19 again…
8 out of 10
01. Thrash Metal Cassette
02. Back Foot
03 Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk
04. Celebrity Mansions
05. Round The Bend
06. Pouring Gasoline
07. Black Limousine
08. K West
09. Professional Freak
10. Long Way Down