Baltimore quartet Dope Body's last album 'Natural History' was a superbly bombastic explosion of gnarly wild-eyed noise rock and weird guitar manipulation that showed a significant step forward from debut 'Nupping'. Can they maintain the momentum on third album 'Lifer'? Early tasters suggest so. Expect dirty, tough and weird noise rock party anthems.
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Like some of noise rock's most classic acts, the most charming thing about Dope Body is that they don't know what they want. On 'Lifer', music is perfectly balanced and democratic, moving between long tectonic jams (like the opening minutes of "Intro", which know they belong to a song but don't really care about getting to it) and tightly structured tunes. The caustic jams are pallette cleansers and often introductions to new songs, and by the time vocals roll around, they've all but been forgotten. It's as if everything is surface noise, even pop songs. Case in point: "Repo Man" introduces us to the compelling snarls of Andrew Laumann, who makes the band sound like an Australian version of Violent Solo -- thrashing and flailing around, they're tempered by this wonderful mess of a voice -- but he never feels like the record's centrepiece. He feels like a nice surprise, a sudden cameo appearance: a true hype man.
Through all the feedback and screaming guitars, Dope Body are surprisingly warm-hearted punks, recalling the fun Pixies were having on 'Doolittle' and the derranged, sarcastric energy of Dead Kennedys back in their "kill kill kill the poor!" days. On "Echo", they toy with a sly, sparkling riff that recalls Fugazi in their hyper-serious end times, as well as a bassline that grooves with all of Unwound's existential dread -- but the chorus shuts the fear-mongering down immediately, with guffawed gang vocals and the silliest guitar solo they can muster. It's the best response they could give us. 'Lifer' doesn't use noise rock to shut out life, or distort it beyond repair. It uses it to celebrate the mess and the chaos and the wonderful truth: life is sick, because you can start a punk band.
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