Review Summary: A raw, emotional, and unique debut from a post-hardcore colossus. Furthermore, this is Jonny Craig at his best.
It seems this band can do no wrong.
This EP starts out with the title track, which serves as an intro. The song features a minute long ambient soundscape of wind and other ambient noise; the song has an organic yet cold sound to it, and this grips you from the start. From there it goes straight into the first full song, The Robot With Human Hair Pt. 1. The Robot With Human Hair series is something that Dance Gavin Dance has expanded on throughout their career, having two additions on this EP, one on a later record with Kurt Travis, and another even later with Jonny Craig back in the band. There's a reason they've kept this series going.
This song immediately hits you with the guitar work of Will Swan and the drumming of Matt Mingus, the only 2 members of DGD to stay in the band throughout their entire career, and they sure as hell go well together. From there it goes into some of JC's (Jonny Craig or Jesus Christ, same person) iconic and beautifully warm voice, straight into Jon Mess' (A.K.A. the inventor of Times New Roman) trademark angry screams harmonizing along with JC. You get a prime taste of what's to come in this EP just from the first minute of this track.
Compared to the fan-favorite LP that came after this, Downtown Battle Mountain, this EP has an overall more raw sound to it, which increases the emotion of this entire creation. The emotion shows throughout this entire thing, from JC's passionate wails, to Mess' anguished cries, and it even shows in the lead guitar work from Will Swan, who pretty much drives this whole EP along. Swan is known for being one of the most remarkably talented guitarists in post-hardcore today, and it goes without saying that this is the case on this EP. From a rare breakdown from DGD on The Importance of Cocaine, to the tapping sections on Burning Down The Nicotine Armoire, the whole deal is driven by Swan.
The rhythm guitarist Sean O'Sullivan shines on this thing too, along with the bassist Eric Lodge. The bass line on Burning Down The Nicotine Armoire adds so much to the song, and drives it to be the best song on this release. The whole song is drenched with emotion from start to finish: starting out with Mess' tortured screams, ""And they would follow you home until we wind up dead, checking your pulse." The song ends with JC crying out, "If you could just wake up tonight, I'd be with you under this sky, with you tonight."
But really the shining point on this whole album is the chorus on Burning Down The Nicotine Armoire where JC and Mess integrate beautifully. Mess screams out "It grabbed us by the throat, yet we continue to breathe" as JC sings out simultaneously "That's how I feel about love, that it's not worth it." The lyrics drive this album along with Mess' abstract imagery and JC bellowing about women and drugs.
Although there are certain tracks that stand out, there isn't any filler on this EP. Each track remains interesting and serves its purpose. All of the members of DGD shine on this album, which is something that you don't see quite as much in their other releases, and while I may be a huge fan of Kurt Travis, he never seems to lash out with the passion that JC shows on this album.
I can't think of anything bad to say about this album, it shines just as bright as Downtown Battle Mountain, the flame just doesn't burn as long, this being only 6 real songs. This is something that might not strike you on your first listen, but this is a certain gem among a band's discography filled with diamonds. The only real problem I can see people having with this is some people could find it less accessible than DBM, due to the imperfect production and Mess' raspy screams, but in the end that's what really makes this album so exceptional.
- Raw as hell
- Emotional and heartfelt
- Expertly crafted instrumentally
- Passionate vocal performances from Mess and Craig
- Some could see it as being too unrefined
Overall rating: 4.8/5