Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Two Bush terms, and this is the hardest they can rock?

In punk rock, six years is an eternity, and since it's been that long since Dillinger Four's last release, one might expect Civil War, the Midwestern stalwarts' fourth LP, to be a little more interesting.

While the record retains D4's signature hard-hitting energy, its overly poppy production sheen (the band's newfound affection for slick vocal harmonies is evident from opener, "A Jingle for the Product" forward) takes away from much of the intended anthemic impact - distorted basslines notwithstanding.
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The group's strength has always been in their ability to straddle hardcore and pop-punk, with their best work maintaining a solid balance by pulling elements from both. Civil War relies perhaps too heavily on frontman Erik Funk's pop-leaning songwriting, which - combined with the new production bent - comes off a litte tired. The record would benefit from more of the rawness of bassist/co-singer Paddy Costello's songs (whose vocals sound like they've been auto-tuned here), which he lets show on standout "parishiltonisametaphor."
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D4 successfully stretched themselves on 2002's Situationist Comedy with new arrangements and production, but that experimentation was achieved by building on their signature sound. Here, they seem to be exploring new territory, but in kind of a lazy way, largely turning out a generic sound. That said, it's still more exciting than most any other pop-punk today, and it's great to hear any new material from these dudes after a long wait.
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Grade: B-
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