1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 137

Artificial Selection, by Dance Gavin Dance
Suggested by Todd Beckett

Through this project, it’s been brought home that, whatever your musical proclivity, there’s a musical niche to fill it.

If you’re into Jazz, for example, there’s a space for you. That space itself if fractured into subspace, and subspace plus, fractally expanding to reveal an infinitely-fingered trumpeter playing infinitely wrong notes.

If Metal’s your bag, you can mosh out in this corner, nod to the Prog in that, wallow in an Emo Screamo Dreamo over here, or pack some spunky funky punk in your trunk over there.

Music can cater to your every whim and mood. Fancy some cheesy Boy Band soul? It’s got ya covered. How about some classic summer vibes, a la the Beach Boys? Sure, just pull up a chair. Looking for something more progressive, with fast mathematic guitar? Get some of this down ya, mate. Hell, if you want some screaming growl vocals, you can have that too!

And, if you want all of those things, together, in one song, there’s Dance Gavin Dance.

In Artificial Selection, the band’s eighth album, Dance Gavin Dance take a number of disparate musical genres and shoehorn them into a wriggling, resisting whole. The percussion is straight up Prog Metal, with franticly tight and tweaked beats assaulting our ears like an orbital sander. The guitar is also Prog twiddle at its core, but has a warm, summery sound that belies its darker roots, like a fading blonde home dye job that’s weeks past its prime. Then there’s the fire and ice of the dual vocal style, one that’s pure boyband chic, moving from a rocky Busted to an East 17 breathy harmony to the clipped shine of the Beach Boys before hitting a full-on Westlife schmaltz, and the other that’s an agonizing screamo wail that perfectly captures the heartfelt despair of a fifteen year old Evanescence fan living with his parents in a black-walled basement bedroom, coming to the fatal realization that his mum has lovingly laundered his favourite bongo sock.

Does it work? Well…

Y’know those Transformers toys from the Eighties? The small ones that transformed from robots into cars or trains or planes, the ones that came in a set of six or so that could be clipped together to make one huge robot made of all the separate parts? Each single robot is great fun to play with, and when you put them all together to make Super Robot Prime, that’s decent fun too… but if you actually look at the thing, it’s really weird, because the big robot is really misshapen, and its left leg is obviously still a fighter jet, and the joints aren’t really flush and strong due to repeated assembly and disassembly, and it’s chipped in places through banging against the table when the separate robots are fighting each other, and each part of the big robot is a different colour so it all just doesn’t really work?

Dance Gavin Dance is like that.

The separate genres battle each other for domination, and your personal favourite song will be the one in which your chosen champion is on the top of the pile. My favourite is Story of my Bros, but yours? I’ve no idea.

I give Artificial Selection a crisp 5/10. There are nice sections, but they Do Not Play Well With Others.

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