Album Reviews - Reviews

The Dismemberment Plan – Uncanney Valley

dismemberment plan

It’s strange meeting an old friend after an extended absence. Will they be the same person that you remember?  I first listened to the Dismemberment Plan during a hospital stay and it was during this time that Emergency & I and the band who created that album became very close to my heart. So when the band announced their new album – their first in 12 years –  I was genuinely afraid to hear it. I didn’t know if I could stand listening to this band and knowing that what mattered so much to me was just a passing thing. I know it is, but it’s just something that you don’t want to have to admit to yourself.

First things first, this is not the band that made Emergency & I. If you want that album, buy the reissue with the additional B-sides but don’t pick up Uncanney Valley with the expectation of ‘Spider In The Snow Part 2’. The band has moved away from the jerky, kinetic danceable punk that defined their earlier releases to a more stable powerpop inflected style; going from Q and Not U to Big Star with electronics. This works quite well in the album’s favour – it helps to fend off that sense of irrelevance and desperation that can clog up reformation records. The album does have pretty clear peaks and troughs though. The opening and concluding trio of songs are pretty uniformly great with the highlights being the Grandaddy influenced ‘No One’s Saying Nothing’ and ‘Let’s Just Go To The Dogs Tonight’. The songs sound like the sort of music you wish Weezer had been making since 1999. It’s a definite shame that the middle cluster of tracks betray the album though. While they’re not bad, they’re forgettable, which is a shame because they do feature some great lyrical work by Travis Morrison.

You can still play punk music when you’re 40 years old, you just need to adjust the filter through which you view things, otherwise you end up being Billy Corgan; old, irrelevant and clinging onto your final shred of dignity. One of the D-Plan’s greatest strength’s was vocalist Travis Morrison’s lyrics and he doesn’t let himself down here. Be it in his examination of the sacrifices that come with fatherhood (‘Daddy Was a Real Good Dancer’), isolation in urban landscape (‘Invisible’) and the bittersweet joys of meeting old friends (‘Let’s Just Go To The Dogs Tonight’). Every song is loaded with a healthy amount or either pathos or fun and, while Morrison is still, in many ways, talking about the same topics he did over a decade ago, he’s found a new way to view them. He’s not fretting about these moments, he’s trying to cling onto them for as long as he can.

In the end, I do enjoy the album. I don’t love it, but it’s almost certainly a solid, and at times excellent, effort – it’s a good reformation record. Going back to that the idea of meeting old friends, whilst listening to the album the first time I came across an old friend. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and I considered starting up a conversation but decided against it, using the above rationale. Listening through this album a couple times, I really regret not saying hi. Neither of us are the same people, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun. Will Murphy

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