The problem with beholding to too many influences is that sometimes
- just sometimes now - you get boxed into a sound that limits
your perception of the band rather than accurately characterizing
them. This is especially the case with Dear + Glorious Physician,
an extremely talented band which will be defined by the stigma
of sounding like The Pixies, too much like The Pixies.
Sure you can hear other influences such as a smidgen of Jawbox
here, a hint of The B-52s there, but overall it is hard
to escape the feeling that you are listening to a Pixies cover
band, performing some hitherto forgotten Pixies hits. Do they
deserve such a designation? Well, maybe, but the point is that
they are better than that, and they need to be considered on an
individual basis alone and not by what came before them.
As a band they do everything right; they accurately use the space
of the music sparingly, emphasizing key points that draw you in
and then sucker punch you with the intelligent power sections.
Not abrasive in any sense of the word, they concisely, almost
calculated to the individual beat, maximize the force of each
turn of phrase, giving great differences between highs and lows.
Even more of a complement is the almost counter-intuitive sections
seamlessly wound into a common thread, which showcase the smarts
of the band without rubbing it in your face.
By far bass and drums pull the lion's share of kudos creating
a sort-of unity of concept and energy. Bass is just amazing with
its rolling lines that provide constancy and epiphany without
distracting, and giving some beautifully memorable lines. Drums
give pace and feel a new meaning, creating a worthy background
and maintaining a subtle focus by which the other instruments
are given free range of expression. Moreover, both instruments
weave effectively in and out of the song spectrum, allowing for
greater depths of emotion, like in "Frenzy (What Happened
Then)" there are some truly inspiring absences of instruments
as vocals and drums create a bare workspace to be inundated with
break-out guitar lines that push the envelope in a climatic display.
Guitars are few and far between in content and use, but are used
as an exotic gloss to build a better song, and what most impresses
me is the correct assignment of processing; giving a nice chorus
feel here for the airy parts and a solid, almost grunge-like,
feel for the pieces that require more harrumph. Vocals, both male
and female, provide interesting dueling constants along the lines
of who was already mentioned, but style-wise fall into familiar
patterns over the course of the record.
I just wish that other band had never existed. If they hadn't,
I wouldn't be constantly comparing DAGP against them where they
would win and lose small battles. If only DAGP was around, I would
cry to the heavens that this album is just brilliant, with almost
all songs worthy of radio play and original. Instead here I am,
and I will compare; but as I move past comparison I will get to
adoration of what is a well conceived and moving record and a
band that necessitates further listening to.
1) Spooky Action
2) Behold The Man
3) A Whiter Machine
5) Frenzy (What Happened Then)
6) Memento Mori
7) Kulblai Khan
8) Donner Party
9) I Do Not Think We Are Beyond The Old Mistakes
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