Review Summary: A decent debut by a band that does not yet know where it's strength lies. I have faith though...
The city of Toronto has been the centre of a lot of recent indie rock talent in the past few years. I happen to be from there, and I see a widespread conversion from the old grungy and heavy rock of the early 90’s to something a little more bubbly and cheerful on “rock stations”. To be honest, it makes me sick most of the time to see radio stations clogged with Cage the Elephant
and Tokyo Police Club
. The shocker with the band Dinosaur Bones
is that they generated buzz by opening for Tokyo Police Club. It’s expected that they draw huge influences from them, but yet here’s a band that strays away from the lovey-dovey tunes of its predecessors to deliver a more serious sounding, sombre indie rock.
Don’t get me wrong, on the brighter-sounding tracks of My Divider
, the band can sound very much like Tokyo Police Club, but there are a few more influences at work here. The punchier sections of the album (see “Hunters” after a fuzzy and pointless 1 minute intro) remind listeners of Minus the Bear
’s grandiose intros before quickly changing pace into a softer, but groovy, guitar that leads into the first verse. As for the singer, Fox chooses to mimic the soaring voice of Brandon Flowers of The Killers
. This is most obvious on tracks like “Point of Pride” and “Life in Trees”.
It does admittedly take a while for the album to start up. “Making Light” is a very quiet and weak first track that would have suited a later position in the album. However, for their debut, the band delivers a respectable track list that mixes different styles of indie rock. There isn’t a problem of too many similar-sounding tracks; it won’t come off as boring in that regard. The problems lie more in the consistency of the band’s delivery.
Fox’s vocals, for instance, are hit-or-miss. There are moments here where he perfectly suits the musical style. He genuinely sounds like he’s enjoying himself on “Point of Pride”, which has the catchiest chorus on the album. On the most popular track “N.Y.E.”, he delivers a very touching vocal performance with lyrics like “Two more years of this, then I’ll retire/ My hands are raw and I’ve lost the time/ Can’t keep pace with all the changing faces/ They know I’ve lost all my pride”
. The lyrics themselves, while a generic explanation of the overwhelming pressure of fame, still grasp the listener. On other tracks though, Fox’s voice manages to come off as mocking and whiny, examples include “Bombs in the Night” and the title track.
I’d like to draw a comparison to the band Cage the Elephant, not because they sound the same as these guys, but because I now currently have the same opinion of both bands. In Cage the Elephant’s recent 2011 sophomore effort, they startled me by kicking the album off with the very pissed off and eerie “Always Something”, a tone I had not expected or heard from them before. While they aren’t a cheerful band, they had sacrificed angrier tone like this for catchier choruses in their debut. On that opener they sounded stronger than ever, but they still fell back into their old habits or catchy and bubbly writing after that track.
Dinosaur Bones also strikes me as the kind of band that doesn’t yet know where their strengths lie. They’re all over the map here; angry, sad, mellow, etc. Yet, they sound the strongest when they are the angriest or loudest. Their softer songs come off as passable at best and just plain stale. This is clearly a band that needs to let it out, let the bass guitarist live a little (like on “Sharks in the Sand” or “Hunters”), let the very talented drummer Lucas Fredette burn off steam more often. They still do not have as unique a sound as one would want, so their sophomore effort needs to also address this problem, but it’s something I’m looking forward to hearing as this band shows a lot of promise with My Divider
Point of Pride