Dillinger Four
C I V I L W A R


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
October 18th, 2008 | 69 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: disco dancing with the best.

I think I was in Grade 10 or 11 when Dillinger Four was supposed to have a new album out. There'd been some controversy about a recently released D4 live album that was allegedly unofficial, but I didn't really care either way---I wanted new material. Well I'm not in high school anymore. I'm in my second year of University, in fact, and it's worth noting I took an extra year in high school. So basically it's been a few years---about five or six I'd say. That's a long, long time for any album to take to get finished. But a punk album? It's practically an eternity. But to my relief and assuredly to the relief of the people at Fat Wreck, C I V I L W A R is finally here. I could ask why it took so long. Was it a matter of laziness? No. Is the album overly ambitious? Er...not at all. No, chances are it took a long time because it took a long time. Dillinger Four has always been a band that prides themselves on the fact that they're regular dudes first and a band second. It's not that they don't care, it's that they don't care. So yes, it's finally here. And yes, it took ***ing forever. Guess we'll all have to get over it.

Getting over it is easy once you press play. C I V I L W A R is a familiar album, even if you've never heard it. Like all Dillinger Four albums, it dares to be called pop-punk. It's impossible (and ignorant) to deny its catchiness. Oftentimes channelling Holy Bible-era Manic Street Preachers, Dillinger Four is a gifted melodic outfit. But like the Manics, they employ melody and hooks with a sense of sardonic-taunting. The guitars are loud, the bass is almost louder. D4 vocalist/guitarist Erik Funk is probably what James Dean Bradfield would sound like if he had a cold and a dangerous smoking habit. I mean that in the nicest possible way. Funk's vocals are borderline wheezy, he tends to sing through his nose and he has a tendency to trail off. This, of course, rules. Then there's Paddy. Paddy is kind of Erik's antithesis. Instead of his voice being high, somewhat air-struck and from the nose, Paddy sounds like he's singing with rocks in his throat. It's like he's spent the last few years gargling whisky and drinking motor oil. Once again, this rules. Of course the band isn't exclusively comparable to the Manic Street Preachers, but their use of distortion, hooks, mushed spaceless song-titles (Americaspremierfaithbasedinitiative/Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldf allapart) and goofy sound-clips make it a convenient launching point. There's also certain bouncy-energy to their sound, something in line with the Stiff Little Fingers. There's attitude, sarcasm and a certain punk vigour about their music but the way they blend it with an almost raucous sense of melody that makes for a truly original sound, one that's been conveniently left untouched between albums.

This is why it's easy to get over the wait. As soon as the sound-clip that opens “A Jingle for the Product” tell us we'll be disco dancing in no time, a quick and familiar drum roll kicks things off and before you know it you'd almost think you put Situationist Comedy on instead. It's not that they've re-written a past album----we know they're a punk band, a formula is expected. It's that the formula is almost perfect. Listening to C I V I L W A R is like being 16 again; a time when pop-punk still ruled supreme, when most of us were embarrassed to admit we were listening to it. Dillinger Four makes us feel 16 again because they remind us of simpler times. It sounds hokey, and it's supposed to. Still, it's not like Dillinger Four sounds sixteen, it's that they know their sound and it hasn't aged at all. They've slowed down and sadly the guitars aren't as needlessly loud as they've been in the past, but there's a level of consistency you have to admire.

If you're lost on comparisons and seemingly vague inferences of “loud” pop-punk, it only takes a listen or two to catch on. As said, the guitars are loud and the bass is probably louder. Both vocalists respective instruments mirror their voices perfectly. Paddy's bass is as simple as it gets. Like his voice, it's thick, nasty and somewhat of an acquired taste. Funk's guitar is scathing, biting and somehow concurrently thin and boisterous. Simple and mid-paced, the drums are almost a non-factor. Like a rear-engine automobile, Lane Pederson takes his kit and his pornstar name out of the lime-light and instead makes sure everything is on pace and solid. Don't get me wrong, the drumming is in no way sub-par, it's just not the focus.

Individually, the songs are what you'd expect them to be. “Fruity Pebbles” is a slower, anthemic and ridiculously simple Paddy-led track that sounds kind of like what Weezer would write if they were borderline alcoholics. Parishiltonisametaphor is probablythebesttrackonthealbum. It isn't hugely different from the rest of the album: it starts with an unexpected piano-passage but for the majority of its 3 minute runtime the song is Dillinger Four at their most recognizable. But the end is one of the best things they've ever done. Comparable in a way to “D4=Putting the 'F' Back in Art”, Parishiltonisametaphor climaxes when it drives to a halt, pausing on Paddy's utterance of the ultra-quotable line “asshole is a fashion that I never could afford to wear”. This is actually a perfect segue: the lyrics are extremely well done, as are the song titles. They certainly pass the “MSN Name” test: the minute I put “Minimum Wage is a Gateway Drug” in my personal message I had about twelve people asking me if I made it up. The album wasn't out yet, so I didn't hesitate to lie. I think that's what the band would have wanted.

Ratings are stupid and arbitrary. C I V I L W A R is anywhere between a 3 and a 5 depending on who you talk to. Objectively, it's a clean-cut four. Of course objectivity is a crock of ***, so now we're back at square one. In the end, the rating is futile. C I V I L W A R isn't a faultless album. Not only is the title a complete pain in the ass to type, but considering the time it took to come to come out it's surprisingly short. Then again it's a pop-punk album; expecting anything more than the standard 35-40 minutes would probably make you an idiot. Of course finding out that they wrote these songs in the last 12 months (negating much of the 6 year wait) is kind of a kick in the balls. It lacks some of the overwhelming instrumental punch of their past outings, but it boils down to a hardly noticeable compromise. The instruments no longer drown out the vocals but they come pretty close. So where does that leave C I V I L W A R? All that needs to be said is that C I V I L W A R was well worth the wait. Considering it was a pretty ***ing long wait, that probably says it better than “X/5” ever could.

Pretty ***ing Good out of Five.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
October 18th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Okay.
This is way late. This is because I put it off (partially because I subconsciously refuse to admit it exists) and hav been ridiculously busy.
Okay.
This is kind of a shitty review. This is because I didnt know what to say. As a result it`s somewhat of a narrative, pretty anecdotal and way too choppy.
Okay.
Whatever. I`m too tired to proof read it tonight. I wrote it one sitting after ditching a bunch of `drafts`. The quality probably reflects that.

rasputin
October 18th 2008


14550 Comments


The review is fine, except I didn't really like the intro, it doesn't really go anywhere. Some typos eg second sentence of second paragraph, but you'll pick those up later on I guess.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 18th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was just trying to give context to how long the album's taken to come out without dropping "Chinese Democracy" into the mix. I'll fix up spelling errors and typos on Sunday, I've got a 15 hour shift on Saturday (or, er, in like 8 hours. I need to get some sleep!).

Kiran
Emeritus
October 18th 2008


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album. So worth the wait.

Digging: Danny Brown - XXX

spoon_of_grimbo
October 18th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great review, typos aside. can't say i'd noticed the manics comparison, but that's inspired me to go back and give the holy bible another listen...

i still can't fucking find this CD anywhere in the UK. zavvi don't know it exists, and hmv say it's import only (and thus fuckin expensive). the local independent music store keeps having it's deliveries delayed too

AtavanHalen
October 18th 2008


17927 Comments


Funny review, loved the life story in the first paragraph.

ToWhatEnd
October 18th 2008


3172 Comments


Someone put this on at work today and it was quite enjoyable.

handoman
October 18th 2008


2386 Comments


I need to get a job, and this album.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2008


17224 Comments


Then why dont you do that?

Bsmith7
October 18th 2008


252 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album has one of the greatest covers ever.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2008


17224 Comments


"If it ain't black and white, peck, scratch and bite"
http://www.geocities.com/zoidberg_fan/scanart/tn_penguin_gun.png
This Message Edited On 10.18.08

brandtweathers
October 18th 2008


2007 Comments


^please tell me that's from futurama. if not, i fail.
funny regardless

edit:
Penguins: [Squawking] Stand still. It's our only hope.
Bender: [Squawking] That's puffin talk! Now, follow me.

This Message Edited On 10.18.08

Tyler
Emeritus
October 19th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn Dave, could have sworn he was the vocalist. Whoops! I'll re-word some stuff and fix typos tomorrow, just got off a ridiculously long shift so I need sleep first and foremost. It's the lack of sleep that resulted in a kind of shifty review.

Grimbo, the Manics comparison is one that just sort of hit me a few weeks ago. Once it randomly popped into my mind I couldn't help but notice it every time around.This Message Edited On 10.19.08

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2008


20857 Comments


I like the last line. The review was a ramble, but a successful one for mine. Good stuff Tyler.

Kiran
Emeritus
October 19th 2008


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Paddy is so awesome on Fruity Pebbles

also, not enough love for Like Eye Contact in an ElevatorThis Message Edited On 10.19.08

Spamue1G
October 19th 2008


1292 Comments


Good, light-hearted review. Nothing more needed, really, I got a good idea of what it sounds like as well as quite a few laughs, so nice job!
Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart has just fallen second in my favourite song titles list. Parishiltonisametaphor is probably the most strangely funny title for anything ever!

spoon_of_grimbo
October 19th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

having put all the manics material i own on shuffle, i can kinda see your point Cocaine, some of their punkier stuff ("new art riot," "faster," and "ifwhiteamerica..." in particular) sounds a bit dillinger-four-ish, although a lot more lightweight. i guess the biggest difference is the voice.

i don't think there's enough of a similarity that all manics fans would enjoy D4, or that those who dislike the manics would dislike D4 though.

Tyler
Emeritus
October 19th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, they're different genres but the aesthetic similarities are very discernible imo.

DBlitz
October 20th 2008


1690 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i like this, anything else worth checking? didn't really like it at first though, seems to be a grower for me - maybe its cause I haven't listened to anything else by them.

beans
October 20th 2008


2332 Comments


the songs on here sound really good
while this is not your best review.
its still pretty damn good man


good job
procrastination can be a bitch



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