Review Summary: Our dancing friend Gavin becomes a man.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where they grow up. It sucks; we all know it, dread it, and try to avoid it as long as we can. It’s the bittersweet compromise and release of things that made life erratic and full of ambiguous hazard and wonder.
But no matter what anyone tells you, there’s always room for fun.
As weird as it is to say, Dance Gavin Dance has grown up. Not necessarily in sound or structure but in execution, songwriting, and aesthetic. Its still as playful, as frenetic, and pungent as ever.
That’s what boggles my mind behind Acceptance Speech. It’s mature and developed yet crazy and spontaneous.
Let’s address the white elephant in the room: Tillian Pearson. Even as a fan I was eager but skeptical. But he really delivers some really solid vocals on this record. Granted not everyone likes his delicate sounding voice compared with Craig the Crooner. But even with the vocal change, this album is a declaration that they are who they are, whether the singer has changed or not.
Tracks like “Doom & Gloom” showcase the maturation and the pure, developed skill of guitarist Will Swan. There’s a point in the song (2:10) where he goes all Tosin Abasi godmode on that poor instrument. Its one of those moments where you’re listening and you stop, raise your eyebrows and start the song over again cause you missed it the first time. Speaking of raised eyebrows, lets talk about the intro track “Jesus H. Macy”. The concise opening riff builds into a beautiful, delicately intricate disaster that DGD has mastered. Then, through the clouds an angelic voice sweeps down and projects with so much confidence he makes you believe he’s always been the vocalist.
Speaking of which though production seems to have slightly downgraded from DBM2 (guitars and bass seems to suffer while drums seem have more focus,) Dance Gavin Dance has experimented with a certain facet with something they've never radically played around with: vocals. “Demo Team” is a great example of this. Jon Mess’ barbaric shrieks (which I have had a love/hate relationship with for 6 years) sync robotically with the almost cinematic breakdown sounding thingy and modulate in and out only to be rivaled by Tillian, who swoops in and rivals and balances out the chaos.
This is where Acceptance Speech works. There is very real sense of balance and temperance to this new Dance Gavin Dance. A perfect example of this is The Robot With Human Hair pt. 4. There seems to be a back and forth banter between Pearson and Mess, which almost makes it like a soliloquy between the split personalities of a very troubled individual.
All in all, Acceptance Speech is one thing: the actuation of an inevitable part of life and music: maturity. But most importantly what they have harrowed in on is balance, balance between two sides of their musical style that keeps us listening: the jazzy, groovy psychedelic hardcore and the unique reckless abandon they seem to have with it. Not only does the group showcase that balance here on this record, but they also do it in such a way that keeps you eager and excited for the future as well. What we hear is Dance Gavin Dance's confidence in their style, and they're having a blast with it.