The Dismemberment Plan
Uncanney Valley


2.0
poor

Review

by Point1 USER (13 Reviews)
October 7th, 2013 | 87 replies


Release Date: 10/15/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If they do care, oh, they're not letting it show.

If 2013 is the "year of reunion albums", which it seems to have been, one of the most surprising was definitely the Dismemberment Plan's. After years of denying any re-involvement with music, the Plan began a small tour in 2011, and two years later announced a new album to general cautious optimism. The revolutionary, genre-less band best known for some of the best albums of the nineties went out on top, with the settled-but-not-boring Change, an album which more than anything represented a marked maturation for them. Logically, any new album would be one for the fans who've stuck with them, since they're essentially a reunion act and probably not aiming for mainstream popularity at this point. Given that, not to mention their virtuoso instrumentalists, killer songwriting instincts, and lyrics so overwhelmingly excellent I could have reviewed this album entirely in quotes, it seemed like while The Dismemberment Plan may not live up to their catalogue, at least they couldn't release something bad, right?

Better start digging.

From a songwriting perspective, Uncanney Valley is a more significant step down from its predecessors than I've seen in a long time. The electric, time-signature-warping riffs and hooks from the group's past are gone, neutered into awkward samples (“Invisible”), boring chord progressions (“Daddy Was a Real Good Dancer”), and feeble reproductions of their old funky dance-punk riffs. While it's impossible to say that the instrumentalists themselves are worse than before, the songs don't give them any opportunities to flex their muscles like "8 1/2 Minutes" and "The Other Side" did. The synths sound cheesy instead of giving off atmosphere. The songs that are alright are unimpressive and simple, like “Lookin'”, and pleasant-enough opener "No One's Saying Nothing", indicating that the Dismemberment Plan don't know how to write good, complex songs anymore. The music isn't unlistenable; in fact often it's fairly pleasant, but it's almost always uninteresting and never up to their standards. However, even great instrumentation wouldn't have been able cover up the most disappointing part of Uncanney Valley: the lyrics.

The lyrics of Uncanney Valley are so worthless that writing a paragraph on them feels like a waste of time. 1999's Emergency & I was one of the most rich, lucid pieces of lyrical writing in the indie-rock canon. Trading normal songwriting sensibilities for what amounted to quick-fire poetry, it touched on a spectrum of themes and issues without ever edging into melodrama. It was an album that could have essays written about each song, and for the most part that's why it's lived on as an essential album despite its niche, cult appeal. The Travis Morrison of 1999 would find a lot to write about 2013. His obsession with technology masking emotions and pain, and his jittery fear of isolation and apocalypse have never been more relevant than now. The Travis Morrison of 2013 seems content to scribble off some clunky, obvious rhymes and unimaginative metaphors and call it a day. While sections like the bridge of “Mexico City Christmas”, referencing “God highlighting things he likes”, show shadows of the old creativity, these are never explored in anything but the simplest of terms. Lead single “Waiting” sounds like a lazy attempt at mom-rap overlaid on a bouncing but nondescript synth beat. The entire final track, framed as though it could become an anthemic live staple is so shockingly amateurish that it's hard to imagine that it was written by the same band that wrote “Back and Forth” or "The City". It's all so lazy, cheesy and predictable that it actually sounds like material Morrison would spew sarcastically on ...Is Terrified. It boggles the mind that such a masterful lyricist could fall so far.

After listening to Uncanney Valley, it's impossible to understand who this album could possibly be for. The shallowness and simplicity, coupled with the brushing away of every Plan trademark makes it unappealing to fans, but at the same time it isn't a pop album or a final attempt at radio play and fame. Uncanney Valley is in every way a bunt-and-a-miss, playing it “safe” while dumbing down the Dismemberment Plan's music to the point of un-recognizability. It fails not only as a comeback album, but as an album in general.



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user ratings (62)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
JamieCTA (3.5)
It’s far from perfect but it’s fun....

Adam Downer STAFF (3.2)
When I say 'what the,' you say 'hell.' What the!...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Point1
October 7th 2013


197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Stream: http://consequenceofsound.net/2013/10/stream-the-dismemberment-plans-new-album-uncanney-valley/

I hate that I hate this so much, but I was looking forward to it for months.

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2013


1638 Comments


Oh god no.

No.

Please, tell me its not true.

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2013


1638 Comments


"1999's Emergency & I was one of the most rich, lucid pieces of lyrical writing in the indie-rock canon."

That is a very well written sentence, 'cept I'd change the "was" to "is".

This is an excellently written stomp on my heart. I will never listen to this album.

ethos
October 7th 2013


1833 Comments


WOW, great review
kinda bummed that you don't think it's too cool but i'm gonna check it out regardless

Yotimi
October 7th 2013


6523 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"I will never listen to this album"

You mean you were really looking forward to this and now refuse to listen because of a bad review? You must really trust this guy

ethos
October 7th 2013


1833 Comments


just started listening on second song
LOL this isn't that bad, pretty funny/catchy actually

Point1
October 7th 2013


197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

There are some catchy parts, especially Waiting.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 7th 2013


16089 Comments


album is useless.

Cygnatti
October 7th 2013


21353 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

that album cover is amazing.

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2013


1638 Comments


"You mean you were really looking forward to this and now refuse to listen because of a bad review?"

Its been a downward slope. Singles, that fucking cover art, advance reviews, buzz from critic friends, and now this.

ethos
October 7th 2013


1833 Comments


definitely not useless lmao what a terrible comment

album actually seems like a really strong starting point for someone who's trying to get into the band, stripped down and more driven by drums, synths create a lot more melodies/hooks rather than ambience and strange tempos. easier to follow while still keeping their sound/style. kinda reminds me of a lot weaker version of pavement's terror twilight. real relaxed and decently written pop songs from a group of musicians who obviously know what they're doing near their retirement

lyrically it's pretty lame i guess haven't dived too deep into them yet only on first listen but this definitely isn't a 2 (for me) and i hope people don't overreact based on the sole fact that these dudes wrote emergency & i - yeah, it's disappointing from the dismemberment plan but i can guarantee that if it was a debut album from any new band people wouldn't judge it so poorly and collectively flip their shit

ExcentrifugalForz
October 7th 2013


1756 Comments


Sucks I was looking forward to this. Some of these songs sounded pretty good live.

If you live in NOVA make sure check track 4 it's all for you baby.

Point1
October 7th 2013


197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

If this was a debut no one would care because
its at best mediocre.

I don't know why we shouldn't view it in
relation to their old stuff. I can't imagine
any of this sounding really kickass live, so it
just dilutes the set list. I don't think anyone
expected emergency and I, but I did hope for a
maybe more simple version of change.

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2013


1638 Comments


"stripped down and more driven by drums, synths create a lot more melodies/hooks rather than ambience and strange tempos."

Yeah they already made that. Its called The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified and its way better.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
October 7th 2013


13341 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ok ok ok guys ill jam emergency 7 i fine you win

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Point1
October 7th 2013


197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

The way I see it, I'm not saying "shame on the dismemberment plan for making this album". I'm just saying its a pretty crummy album and that's a shame.

ethos
October 7th 2013


1833 Comments


yeah i can get that
second half of this kinda urged me to hit pause and listen to something else :" (

yay foxxxxy

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
October 7th 2013


13341 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice make believe rec m/

Cygnatti
October 7th 2013


21353 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"i can guarantee that if it was a debut album from any new band people wouldn't judge it so poorly and collectively flip their shit"

I would have no reason to care about this if it were a new band.

scissorlocked
October 7th 2013


3511 Comments


they grew up, it's that simple

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things



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