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When I last reviewed Denelian, their spot-on re-creation of the 80’s synth pop sound amused and confused me. I dedicated the entire review of False:Positive to eighties references, and ended the review assigning Denelian to those who like the new wave revival that’s going around. I didn’t even give it a thought that they might eventually break out of their 80’s-worship and, well, get modern.

Boy, has Denelian ever proved me wrong. Shedding the Joy Division and Cure comparisons like a soiled coat, Denelian’s dark, furious stomp now bears more connections to Nine Inch Nails than those pretty boys in the mascara, although neither comparison really peg them well any more. From start to finish, this album oozes an urgency, intensity, and reality that was sorely absent from their last EP. Everything has pop and bite on these new demos, from the thrashing drums to the searing synths to the gritty guitars to the thick yet very clear bass to even those dour vocals (which still sound new-wave – it’s hard to change a vocal style). Where it was campy and gauche last time around, now it’s prescient and arresting. This is, in all intents and purposes, a completely different band with a completely different sound.

The sound is produced in a much louder, rawer way, lending an authenticity to these demos that makes even “Inside” – a song that would fit in perfectly on False:Positive in terms of songwriting style and melodic construction – sound like a slicing, voracious monster. It’s the least vicious of the five tunes, and it still sounds ominous and dangerous. This, if you couldn’t tell from the glee oozing out of these words, is a fantastic development.

When Denelian really goes for it, as in “Bankrolled and Bitten,” they create a raucous, rowdy, fuzzy noise that not only could inspire dancing, it could inspire violence. It even inspired a crowd to form in my room, as people from down the hall were drawn to this loud, jarring, propelled noise. The junk noise and bongos that Denelian throw into “Bankrolled and Bitten” are two things I never in a million years would have pegged Denelian to even try, much less successfully pull off. Heck, I don’t think there’s been a dance-rock band in recent history that’s pulled it off as totally convincingly as Denelian does.

All of these five tracks burn and break with a passion that didn’t exist before. Some tracks, like “Bankrolled and Bitten” and “Ten Thirty-One Was Always Her Favorite Day” call up comparisons to dance-punk greats like The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem. I can’t impress upon you how awesome it is that I can say that, and how excited I am that I am able to say that.

That’s not to say these songs are perfect, as there are some imperfections (beyond the planned ones in “Bankrolled” and the ‘let’s sound spontaneous’ herky-jerky beginnings of “Wealth of a Nation” and “Inside”) that thunk and then move on. But when the prodigal son comes home, you don’t immediately tell him that his clothes are dirty. You rejoice! And that’s what I’m doing.

Denelian must have taken some “Awesome Pills” or something, because they’re nothing like they were before. Denelian is a well-oiled, shimmy-inducing dance-punk machine that uses new-wave the right way: as a stepping stone and not something to be imitated. I am extremely excited to see what Denelian produces from here on out – they’ve really snapped themselves into shape and aligned themselves squarely on my “bands to watch” list.

-Stephen Carradini