Review Summary: Far from original, but nowhere close to bad, the latest effort from scene wailers Drop Dead, Gorgeous is a notable improvement over their last two releases.
It seems just recently that many were bashing the immature screeches of In Vogue or snickering at the laughably disturbing concept of Worse Than A Fairy Tale. Those criticisms were indeed warranted; both of this post-hardcore five-piece’s previous efforts were heavily flawed, displaying an immature band; one with a good deal of (oftentimes ignored) potential, and one more than capable of breaking from the horde of other scene bands. The Hot N’ Heavy shows a good deal of progression in reaching that potential, with a good balance of aggression and melody. The vocals are now bearable, even enjoyable in spots, and the instrumentation is tighter, particularly the rhythm section.
Right from the outset, it is clear that this is no longer the DDG of old. Pop influence is evident in the music now, as breakdowns have been largely replaced by heavier melodic sections. Opener Killing A Classic showcases the new sound exceptionally well, offering a good balance of heavy, harsh sections and more melodic areas. Southern Lovin’ and Beat the Devil Out Of It continue this trend, both being catchy, well done tunes that display the evolved sound of the band. The latter also features one of the few breakdowns on the record.
The real gem from this record is Two Birds One Stone. Perhaps the song with the most pop influence, the track is catchy beyond measure, and succeeds in capturing the dark vibe the band so passionately seeks. It carries a vaguely pop-punk rhythm throughout, and features a massive sing-a-long chorus. The song really shows what the band can do when firing on all cylinders, and is without a doubt among the best they’ve ever produced. Closer We’re Planning, God’s Laughing is a great track, though an experimental oddity of a song. The intro features anguished screaming backed by sparse drumming and Shikari style electronica. The drumming then becomes frantic and the song then erupts into a dark, rolling avalanche of drum distortion with ghostly vocals soaring overhead.
Now this album is far from perfect, and carries a good deal of negatives. The Internet Killed The Video Star is absolutely abhorrent, only to be saved by a strong outro consuming the last 40 seconds or so. The song actually reminds me of a piece of excrement Enter Shikari produced between records, as it features unbearably bad lyrics, bland instrumentation and barrages of poorly done electronica elements. Can’t Fight Biology can only be described as inexcusable, the vocals being pathetic, even sounding off key in places. Having these tracks back to back does not help. The album also begins to drag after a while, as the songs have little variation in their structure. Frontman Danny Stillman’s clean vocals are for the most part much improved, though he has lapses of sounding like his old self. Several tracks sound like In Vogue retreads, and the harsh vocals are essentially the same, though used less.
However, the real surprise for me on this record was the improved instrumentation across the board. The guitar leads on songs like Two Birds One Stone, Fame, and Dirtier Than You Want To Know show that guitarist Kyle Browning has the ability, though it is clear he does not always use it. Drummer Danny Cooper was the greatest treat, using extensive double bass, and laying down some great fills throughout the album. He has clearly evolved as a musician between records. The bass is absent, though that seems to be the norm with music nowadays. The musical improvement of Drop Dead, Gorgeous really is the primary reason for the quality of the record.
Bottom Line: A good listen, though nothing groundbreaking, The Hot N’ Heavy shows that DDG has matured and started to find themselves as artists, though a good deal of growth is still required for the band for reach it’s potential.
Two Birds One Stone
Killing A Classic
Southern Lovin’ (Belle Of The Ball)
We’re Planning, God’s Laughing