DINOSAUR PILE-UP – Growing Pains (Friends Vs Records)

I had heard a couple of tracks from Dinosaur Pile-Up’s myspace page when they first came to the attention of the NME, but none of those songs prepared me for just how great this album turned out to be. Opening track ‘Birds & Planes’ just about takes the top of your head off, exploding from the speakers from the outset and keeping up the pace until it grinds to a halt three and a half minutes later. If you have read any press about this band being nothing more than grunge revivalists or in thrall to early Nirvana then put those prejudices to one side and lend an ear to one of the most exciting ROCK bands that we have produced for a while. OK, their knack of combining crushingly heavy riffs with oddly melodic tunes does bring to mind Nirvana and Dinosaur Jnr, but they do it with a youthful enthusiasm which has been missing from this sort of music for way too long. The punning ‘Barce-Loner’ shows they have a sense of humour as well, and while in the hands of a lesser band ‘Never That Together’ could have turned out as a mawkish dirge, here it is a full-bodied power-ballad with the guitars still turned up to 11 despite the slower pace. ‘Mona Lisa’ has a great melody in the verses but gets a bit lost in the chorus, and while ‘Broken Knee’ brings back the power of those first few tracks it lacks something in the melody stakes. ‘Hey Man (Home You Ruin)’ pulls it back with the classic Nirvana/Pixies quiet/loud trick, but having a great chorus that they can rock out on also helps. ‘My Rock And Roll’ is one of the standout tracks on here – the stop/start tune, the thundering guitars, and the pure energy on display all make for a classic hard rock/grunge tune. ‘Maybe It’s You’ keeps up the mega-riff onslaught, but the tune is a bit too slight to really hold it together, whereas ‘Love To Hate Me’ manages to weld together some great hard-rock guitar with a great tune and (considering the lyrical content) a surprisingly catchy chorus. ‘Hey You’ is the biggest surprise on here, with the band going all acoustic on us – just one guitar and three voices proving that they can actually sing and write a sensitive song if they want to. They can’t keep it up though, as the last minute and a half is swamped in their trademark guitar onslaught, and then ‘All Around The World’ closes the album with an extended, chugging riff-heavy rocker. Bearing in mind that this is a young band, and a debut album, they show an enormous amount of promise, and while not perfect this is still a thrilling and exciting album which manages to capture the feeling you got when you heard Nirvana for the first time. I expect great things from their next one.
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