8/10 Mike Staff review, 11 October 2013
I always feel a certain sense of ambivalence and trepidation when much loved bands dust off their equipment and reunite several years after their initial success, although there are a surprising amount of ‘90s greats actually making a decent fist of it at the moment - some, like Dinosaur Jr, Girls Against Boys, Three Mile Pilot, Man Or Astro Man? and Mission of Burma, have even followed that up by making excellent new records post-reunion.
The Dismemberment Plan, of course, brought out four of your favourite records in the late ‘90s and then disappeared into the sunset on a high following 2001’s ‘Change’. Now, 12 years on, they’ve got back together for a few shows, remembered they were good and written a new album. The ten songs on here certainly sound like the Dismemberment Plan, with Travis Morrison’s distinctive voice at the centre of it all.
The songs tend to be hook-laden 4/4 pop numbers with much less of the awkwardness and noisiness which characterised their first three albums - this is more in the vein of their swansong ‘Change’, with bittersweet anthem ‘Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer’ the immediate stand-out track, finding a comfortable place somewhere between The Wrens and the Talking Heads.
It does seem to be something of a “safe” album within their canon, with less of the goofy instrumentation and razor-sharp wordplay than the more urgent early material, settling into the quirky indiepop bracket where you'd find the likes of They Might Be Giants, but it’s still a very charming and immediate album of thoughtful indie pop which I’ll be taking home with me for closer inspection. Our usually unimpressable Ian is quite excited about it, saying it gets better and better as the album progresses. I think that on first listen it’s neither as bad as I’d feared nor as good as I’d hoped, but it’s new Dismemberment Plan so you should be grateful.
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