In the way a drop of sour milk at the start of the day could ruin the finest champagne until at least lunchtime, Dinosaur Pile-Up’s second album opener ‘Arizona Waiting’ leaves a less than pleasant taste. Unfortunately it could stand up as the song that exemplifies a few notable drawbacks of rock music: its whiney vocals and forceful but largely aimless guitars leading into an out-of-place squeal of “screeeeeeeeeeam’.
Unfortunately the next ten tracks aren’t Moët, they’re Panda Pops at best. ‘Nature Nurture’ has the worrying feel of a high school band; the majority of the songs are not honed or squared off in the way they should be, yet it doesn’t have the confidence or intensity to carry that off as being a lo-fi garage-thrashing assault. Fourth track ‘Heather’ shows the first real sign of promise with a soaring riff and vocals that tend less towards pop-punk – and then comes the chorus, all intensity is lost.
Fifth track ‘Summer Gurl’ continues the pattern of evolving a fairly promising guitar line into a sonic disappointment. The title ‘White T-Shirt And Jeans’ is probably meant to project some sort of classic-slacker cool, but instead just offers a laughable allegory of the lack of ideas, originality and perhaps and even effort contained within. It’s the song Weezer would have binned within three minutes of it being written.
The most important lesson they seem to have forgotten is this – it’s very hard to be so easy. The real disappointment is that Dinosaur Pile-Up can sit the right side of the line, they can be a rough and ready garage rock band, with a beating heart of soft choruses and veins that pump with grunge. For their first album they conjured up two excellent songs in ‘Traynor’ and ‘My Rock N Roll’ and on this sophomore effort they’ve nearly totally extinguished whatever flame lit up those songs.
But here’s the kicker; the eighth track. It’s here, out of nowhere, the album picks up considerably, with one rip-roaring track, the darkly-toned ‘Draw A Line’ that leads into the first track where the sickly sweet grunge cocktail finally works out, the easy-to-love ‘Start Again’. It may well be too little too late but it’s at least hope. The Jekyll and Hyde trick flips back there though, as the final two tracks see the album wither away unimpressively.
The album’s title poses the age-old opposites against one another, those of nature and nurture. The fact is though the album is too forced and indebted to its influences to be natural and too often poorly executed and structured to be nurtured. Through a lack of ideas and simply too many bad ideas pursued for too long without care it brings to mind the depressingly realistic third option – it’s been neglected.