Review Summary: Rock solid and then some.
It only took them a little over a decade, but Dance Gavin Dance have finally reached status quo. Internal disputes and line-up changes are a thing of the past and Mothership
–the band's seventh studio album, mind you– sees the same lineup staying the course for the third time in a row, which is nothing short of a miracle. Sac town's most eclectic post-hardcore outfit have hit full throttle and wastes no time picking up where last year's successful Instant Gratification
left off, while adhering to the unorthodox song structures and wonky time signatures of their earlier albums. The result is a no holds-barred, fire-on-all-cylinders offering that also happens to be the band's most bombastic, and to some extent, best album in their decade long career. A large part of why Mothership is such a blast is due to the fact that vocalist Tilian Pearson has improved tenfold and manages to one-up his predecessors (Jonny Craig, Kurt Travis) on a track-to-track basis.
Just listen as he belts his heart out on rousing anthems like "Inspire The Liars" and "Here Comes the Winner" – the latter of which coincidentally has one of the most enjoyable refrains on the album in the form of "I'll pretend I'm better than these clowns"
– fair play, Tilian. Co-front man Jon Mess is no slouch either; riding shotgun on Tilian's croons with his frenzied screams that occasionally harmonize with Tilian's vocals to great effect, apparent on tracks like "Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise" and the power-metal influenced "Philosopher King". Elsewhere, the feel-good funkiness of "Young Robot" and the ballad-esque "Exposed" (which elects Jon Mess entirely) are the only palate cleansers on the album, resulting in an occasionally exhausting listening experience, especially towards the final stretch of the album. Fortunately, what remains here is a band that sticks to their guns in the best possible way, with tons of songs and melodies that beautifully hearkens back to every past Dance Gavin Dance-era and the musical palettes they encompass.
The album's strongest asset however, comes in the form of the many ear-wormy hooks courtesy of Tilian's vocals and Will Swan's signature guitar twangs, which effortlessly shift between prog-like noodling and more traditional post-hardcore riffage. "Frozen One" has by far one of the best choruses since "Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine" from the band's 2008 self-titled album
, and follows suite in musical style to said album brilliantly, whereas "Chocolate Jackalope" packs one of the most infectious intros on the whole album and an almost-but-not-quite rapping section by Will Swan, that's considerably less obnoxious and offensive than they have been in the past. The hilariously titled "Flossie Dickey Bounce" pales considerably in comparison to the highlights though, and feels hap-hazardly thrown together at the last minute with minimal substance. Even so, the instrumentation is a consistent home-run. Drummer Matt Mingus pummels his way through the explosive, double-kick-laden chorus of "Deception" and interlocks his beats with Tim Feerick's cyclical bass work and Will Swan's ever-so-delightful riffs. It's a familiar formula that's executed exceedingly well, with enough bells and whistles to please anyone who's ever had a passing interest in the band. All told, Mothership
is a highly enjoyable romp. The standout tracks far outweigh the weaker moments and the vocals, be it sung or screamed, have never sounded more nuanced than they do here. From the aggressive, white-knuckle instrumentation to the numerous sing-along worthy moments, Mothership
manages to be both exciting and familiar all the same – further proof that the band's songwriting chops have held up over the past 11 years. Kinetic, technical, diverse and absurdly catchy, this is a space-faring post-hardcore outing that demands your attention.
Inspire The Liars
Here Comes The Winner
Betrayed By The Game
Least favorite track(s):
Flossie Dickey Bounce