Review Summary: These unique Scots add some muscle to their self-proclaimed fight-pop.
When Dananananaykroyd caught the music world's attention back in 2009 with their ludicrous name and ridiculously self-labeled genre of fight-pop, everything about them screamed "gimmicky flash in the pan". More comfortable in the live format (including a Wall of Cuddles and occasional injuries to band members), the unique Scottish sextet built up a cult following by playing a wildly chaotic and exuberantly loose amalgam of indie-pop and post-hardcore. It is almost disorienting then that their second LP 'There Is A Way' begins with ninety odd seconds of tight, driving rhythms that are accompanied by a gloriously melodic guitar line. Devotees should not fear however as the superb 'Reboot' still manages to contain the band's trademark dual vocals, some screaming and even a "Na na na na na" sing-along into its four minute duration.
Known for their curiously effective choice of producers, Dananananaykroyd have switched helmsman from Machine to fellow American Ross Robinson (At The Drive-In, The Cure, Glassjaw), who helps provide a more muscular sound on 'There Is A Way'. While still utilizing angular post-punk chords on occasions, the intricate dual guitar attack of Duncan Robertson and David Roy is more often used to give tunes a space-filling multi-dimensional feel this time around. Furthermore, while the post-hardcore tendencies of their debut have been reined in, the unconventional song structures and hyperactive nature of the sextet are still obviously apparent. Look no further than the playful 'Think and Feel', a funky football chant of a polarizing song ("Whoa oh", "dananananana", and a chorus of "I get bored, so I go outside for a beer"), that throws in a saxophone break and a distortion-filled wig out!
With such a frenetically relentless aural assault throughout, it is difficult for the latter half of 'There Is A Way' not to feel a little exhausting. Excluding the enthralling 'Seven Days Late', that is the case here, although there is almost always a melodic riff to hang your hat on. The intentionally messy 'Good Time' is the album's nadir, while the Muse sounding 'Apostrophe' will be divisive. As left of centre as Dananananaykroyd are, their secret weapon is the contradictory ability to craft irresistibly hooky and deceptively harmonic sing-along choruses. 'E Numbers', 'Time Capsule' & 'Glee Cells Trade' are all evidence, but it is infectious lead single 'Muscle Memory' which lodges itself in the mind most noticeably. All are pleasingly accompanied by the differentiating thick Glaswegian burr of dual vocalists Calum Gunn and John Baillie Jr, even if it is sometimes nigh on impossible to understand what they are yelping about (Apostrophe's "And a source said I'm happy but be careful" sounds like "Have a sausage and a paper pecan").
A more focused, assured and cohesive release than Dananananaykroyd's debut LP, 'There Is A Way' leans more towards rock than pop, even if pigeon-holing such a quirky band into broad genres hardly seems fitting. The more muscular sound apparent second time around assists the much-discussed lasting value of the sextet, making this album as much of a grower as it is immediate. While some forced genre mish-mashing still exists, the more refined approach used on 'There Is A Way' should see the group find a greater audience, since the conflicting combination of frenetic and melodic is pulled off with such impressively deft precision. It is this "best of both worlds" approach which ultimately results in a satisfyingly intuitive evolution for this boisterous and idiosyncratic outfit, and such a fun and enjoyable experience for listeners.
"This is all an assault on my senses".
Recommended Tracks: Muscle Memory, Reboot, Seven Days Late & E Numbers.