For Fans Of
In 2008, Dinosaur Pile-Up became one of the U.K.’s most exciting new rock bands with their stampeding, grunge-infused single, My Rock and Roll. Over the next few years, they continued to release good music but with little fanfare, gaining a modest hardcore following. Arguably, they still haven’t made the big waves once promised by My Rock and Roll all those years ago, but with fourth LP ‘Celebrity Mansions’, have Dinosaur Pile-Up done enough to make people stand up and take real notice? I sure think so.
Admittedly, I checked out on Dinosaur Pile-Up after their excellent early singles and demos. Yet I felt let down by their 2010 debut album, feeling it sounded too polished; that the songs weren’t as strong as I had hoped for. Since then, ‘Celebrity Mansions’ is their first album that has me right back on-board, back listening again and being genuinely excited. Thanks in no small part to the sheer quality of the early singles, Thrash Metal Cassette and Back Foot.
Thrash Metal Cassette is an absolute rager with proper metal riffs and a massive gravelling vocal of “ooohhhh Thrash Metal Cassette” for the pre and post-chorus hook. The chorus is just such bouncy, punk rock goodness and there’s even a ridiculous ode to Babymetal and even Faith No More’s Be Aggressive in the final third too. It’s impossible to not like it! Then, Back Foot couldn’t be much more different to Thrash Metal Cassette. The main verse is slacker white-guy rap over an Offspring style lead guitar; think Original Prankster or Pretty Fly For A White Guy. It then launches into this huge grinding “I’m always on the Back Foot” chorus, which I’m sure you’ll be singing along to before the songs even done the first time around.
These first singles are the opening one-two punch for the LP, but the intensity doesn’t stop there, with Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk (a mouthful of a title) as a follow-up. The verse is completely unstoppable, bursting into life with razor-edged riffs and furious, tongue-twisting lyrics, channelling an early Blink-182 energy, that are a joy to sing along to once you learn to keep up. The chorus is pure pop-punk joy, with its lyrics about unrequited love, but the best moment is the rapped vocal of “stupid, heavy metal, broken hearted, loser punk, uhh” before launching back into that fantastic driving verse.
The 1990s are ALL over this album. It’s full of eye-winking nods to classic bands like Weezer, Foo Fighters, The Offspring, Silverchair, Nirvana, Feeder, Smashing Pumpkins, and so on. If you grew up in that era, or have a real appreciation and love for the decade, then you’ll find plenty to love, even for things that may seem a touch stupid in hindsight. The title track, in particular, feels very much like post ‘Green Album’, gangster attitude Weezer. But whereas Weezer seemed to lose their way, ‘Celebrity Mansions‘ ends up consistent, with tonnes of lyrical and instrumental hooks, and heavy buzzing riffs in the chorus. The lyrical content is even a fairly blatant assessment of the band’s own personal fortunes and their lack of commercial success. It’s not Matt Bigland whingeing, however, it’s just him being upfront and honest with you as a listener about his band and the biz. The best part of the song though? The tinkling triangle over the chugging riffs in the pre-chorus that follows the second verse. Bloody genius.
Round The Bend lands with a straight forward punk-rock riff a la Millencolin et al, but the chorus really shines with massive vocal hooks about going – yep, you guessed it – round the bend. There’s also a great moment near the end where the production falls away and it sounds like an acoustic demo before the drums and riffs slam back in again. The lyrics, while not particularly original, are undeniably catchy. On Pouring Gasoline, everything gets a little Foo Fighters, but not the bland stadium rock that they’re churning out now, but rather peak Foos. You’ll hear a little bit of Monkey Wrench, hints of All My Life and even some of The Pretender in places ere. Unsurprisingly, it’s an absolute belter! This is pure unadulterated rock music, folks.
Black Limousine opens with that acoustic riff from Round The Bend, before leading into a Smashing Pumpkins-esque muted verse. It’s delightfully sombre but once the chorus hits, the song never lets up, and in terms of pure grunge energy, it’s arguably the standout track of the record. K West brings the real bravado back and the lyrical content comes in stark contrast to the title track. It’s a ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek boast of all the fantastic things the singer does as a rock star, like dining with Jay-Z or watching the game with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. K West feels more akin to something that Rivers Cuomo might have written in 2019 and wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘The Black Album’.
Professional Freak comes in like Silverchair on some hectic MDMA. It channels the counter culture call to arms that is Freak, but adds a sprinkling of fun to the grit and grind of the original. Shouting along to the choruses of Freak is never not a cathartic, inclusive experience and the shouts of “I’m a professional freak” sounds like a call-to-arms running its course; having inspired the freaks out there to go and make their own art. The album then ends with moody closer, Long Way Down, a slower-paced piece that maintains a considerable groove. There’s loads of screeching guitar licks and squealing bends throughout, which add up to a crushing sense of power; operating as a perfect way to ease the record on to a satisfying conclusion.
At just over half an hour long, and with ten blisteringly energetic and impossibly fun rock’n’roll tracks, ‘Celebrity Mansions’ is a triumphant blend of everything that made alternative rock music, in the 90s and since, just so goddamn great. While Dinosaur Pile-Up do offer up the occasional songwriting quality that made rock music questionable during that same era (rapped vocals, for example), but when they’re delivered with this much fun, conviction and tongue in cheek bravado, you just cannot help but love it. Dinosaur Pile-Up’s new album made me revisit a band that I’d nearly all but forgotten about, so if you’ve previously overlooked Dinosaur Pile-Up or haven’t ever been convinced by them in the past, now is the best time to check back in. They’ve just gone and made one of the best rock records of 2019.
Thrash Metal Cassette
Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk
Round The Bend
Long Way Down
‘Celebrity Mansions’ is out now.