Dance Gavin Dance – Afterburner
Released: April 24, 2020
Tilian Pearson | Clean Vocals
Jon Mess | Unclean Vocals
Will Swan | Guitar/vocals
Tim Feerick | Bass
Matt Mingus | Drums
If you weren’t ready to have your ears dancing and flitting from note to note, you might find Dance Gavin Dance a little overwhelming. But take a step back, dip your toe in the water to acclimatise yourself first before you jump in. And when you do, embrace the immersion.
Afterburner is Dance Gavin Dance’s ninth studio album, but you wouldn’t know it because what they’ve delivered is an innovative album that sounds like classic DGD and yet not at all. I really don’t know how they’ve done it, but let me tell you a bit more about it.
The record kicks off with ‘Prisoner’, and it’s a great opener. It’s a little jazzy, a little groovy and has a repetitive riff that is oh so satisfying. Tillian Pearson’s raspy cleans are almost angelic and soft compared to Jon Mess’ screams that punctuate the melody at just the right time. If you’re one of the people that like to walk in time with the song you’re listening to, or feel an immense amount of satisfaction when your windscreen wipers sync with your music in the car for those precious seconds, you’ll like this track.
‘Lyrics Lie’ is probably a strong favourite. There’s something about the playfulness of the lyrics – “Remember when you tried to kiss her / But she was gay and liked your sister” – and the sing-ability of the chorus that is addictive. Oh, and Tillian screams too! But let’s talk about ‘Calentamiento Global’. It’s Spanish for ‘Global Warming’ and this track is amazing. It opens with a drum solo and morphing into a Latin infused journey that sees Tillian singing in Spanish. Somehow, it’s DGD prog and somehow, it’s a Latino dance track? I really hope there are some Latino DGD fans out there that are frothing over this.
‘Three Wishes’ is groovy and poppy and overly excited about “multiple stab wounds yeah!”. This is one that’ll grow on you the more you listen. But ‘One In A Million’? It’s an earworm for sure. Such strong vocals and – can I use the word ‘boppy’? I’m gonna. It’s a boppy track that’ll have the crowds bouncing when it’s played live, you won’t be able to dislike this one.
‘Parody Catharsis’ and ‘Strawberry’s Wake’ are both songs that are unmistakably Dance Gavin Dance. Intricate guitar melodies, the give and take between Tillian’s cleans and Jon’s screams, and little snippets of exciting melodies spread throughout. We get taken to a darker place with ‘Born To Fail’ – it has a dark, unsettling opening with heavy screams that raise a bit of concern. It’s softened by Tillian’s cleans, and slowly takes on a lighter feel as the song progresses.
You want some fat riffs? Some chunky funk? Listen to ‘Parallels’. But if you want some rock, ‘Night Sway’ is for you. It seems that DGD are chameleons, adapting to any genre and making it their own. And doing it well, at that. ‘Say Hi’ has a little bit of chaotic energy twined with some sweet cleans and rapid melodies. And, heading towards the end, ‘Nothing Shameful’ features some guest vocals by Andrew Wells (Eidola) and it really elevates the song, adding another unexpected but welcome element. His vocals lend a very different sound to a Dance Gavin Dance song, and it’s wonderful.
And we’ll close with another guesty on ‘Into The Sunset’. Johnny Franck (Bilmuri and ex-Attack Attack!) lends his vocals to this epic closer and, I almost don’t want to give it away, but once you’re past the slow, breezy opening and Tillian’s cascading chords, there’s a hint of hip hop. But that’s not all! There’s rap! Rapping on a Dance Gavin Dance track! And it totally works, oh man. What a way to leave listeners on a high.
What makes a good album? A good album catches your attention and keeps it. A good album has little surprises for you in its melody, a guitar riff and lyrics. A good album is easy to listen to. But what makes a great album? You should ask Dance Gavin Dance.
Dance Gavin Dance – Afterburner tracklisting:
2. Lyrics lie
3. Calentamiento Global
4. Three Wishes
5. One In a Million
6. Parody Catharsis
7. Strawberry’s Wake
8. Born to Fail
10. Night Sway
11. Say Hi
12. Nothing Shameful
13. Into the Sunset