Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.
Artist: The Dillinger Escape Plan
Title: Option Paralysis
Release date: March 23
Label: Party Smasher
If you're a regular reader of "Nothing Not New," you've undoubtedly seen me gripe about the current crop of indie rockers' general unwillingness to rock. I must've been sleeping off a hangover or watching an I Love the '80s marathon the day the indie world decided it was no longer fun/cool/wise to make some noise.
Even the antecedent indie-pop heavy hitters of my youth -- bands like Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Feelies -- were still rock bands at heart. Somewhere along the way the Grizzly Bear aesthetic became the preferred mode of musical expression and indie rock got all Tiny Tim on me.
So, yeah, I've been waiting for a high-energy indie-rock record to come across my desk, and it just did, in the form of The Dillinger Escape Plan's Option Paralysis. And it's insane -- a near-breathless assault on the senses. Funny, because I thought math rock had died sometime in the early 2000s, but I stand corrected (again). Turns out Dillinger Escape Plan is carrying the math-rock torch -- and keeping it aflame with what must gallons and gallons of lighter fluid.
I can't imagine what a Dillinger Escape Plan live show must be like. Probably exhausting. There's no time signature these guys are afraid to tackle. They take countless twists and turns -- from blast-beat fast to grunge-y slow to sweeping arena rock, from throat-shredding screamo to Alice in Chains-esque crooning, from chunky metal chords to intricate fretting -- and do it several times in each song. It's way beyond aggressive. It's violent music. And just to confuse matters further, skronky synths give way to melodic piano runs and string arrangements.
And it's all held together by a crazy dynamo of a drummer. It's an incredible drumming performance from start to finish -- reason enough to go see this band in concert. In fact, the whole record is a pretty amazing achievement in performance. It's like jazz in the sense that, to me, a jazz performance isn't so much about the song as it is about the virtuosity of the players. It's ambitious and epic record, and these pull it off with seemingly the greatest of ease.
For the most part, you can't discern the lyrics amid all the shouting, but I looked up the lyrics of a few songs on the Internet. This verse from the wig-out "Crystal Morning" pretty much sums up every single aspect of Option Paralysis: "All these nights of broken glass / This vision soon will pass / Soon will pass / All the way from Hell to here / This is an act of vengeance / They say the end is near / Well, let it start / Let it start now."
Best song: "Gold Teeth on a Bum," which features the closest thing on this record to a sing-along chorus. (Sample couplet: "It's just like every other day / I know how to fix you should you come my way")
Deja vu: A strobe-lit pitbull fight
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.
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