(www.denelianmusic.com) Denelian – Gossip with the Devil EP
Artsy, interesting dance-punk songs that continue the evolution of a band.
Denelian’s dance-punk songs have evolved from ‘80s mimicry in the band’s early days to blazing, angular vendettas in their last few releases. In Gossip with the Devil, Denelian straddles both worlds and produces some interesting outcomes.
Denelian opts for more synth action this time around, employing them prominently in each of the four tracks on Gossip with the Devil. These songs aren’t as immediately accessible as Denelian’s previous work, as the synth-heaviness takes some time to integrate with the rest of the sound. It’s not that people haven’t used synths in dance-punk before – it’s that the specific tones that Denelian uses have a very soft, whispery tone to them. They aren’t the ferocious, biting tones of Mommy and Daddy or even the piercing, shrill tones of the sadly defunct Mon Frere. These sound more like flutes. I’m not kidding. Check out the middle and end of “A Good Morning for an Ending” to see what I mean.
It’s not that these songs don’t have the oomph that Denelian used to have – the aforementioned “A Good Morning…” has a substantial amount of bass pulsing. “The Paycheck Makes the Man” has thrashy drums and a great forward-moving beat. It’s just that on top of the usual dance-punk missives, there are these odd synths. At first I was determined to hate them, but as I listened to the tracks, I got used to them and even like them in places (“Paycheck…” being one of those places).
Synth use isn’t the only experimentation going on. “It’s a Funeral, What Did You Expect?” plays liberally with the use of vocals, jamming syllables into places they don’t fit and generally making mincemeat of preconceived notions of how you should arrange words in songs. Other than the vocal acrobatics, the song is the most straight-forward of the four here, sounding most like the old Denelian I’ve come to expect.
Closer “A Summer Heist” is my favorite track here. It uses the synth noises to create a film-noir-esque mood for the song, while using the snare-heavy beat and squawking guitars to create the paranoia of a bank robber on the lam. The great background vocals and stellar pacing of the song only contribute to the claustrophobic, nervous mood. The song is danceable, but even more than that, it’s listenable if you’re not dancing. With “A Summer Heist,” Denelian has moved out of the realms of a fantastic dance band into a band you can listen to on the road, on your bike, at your computer, or whenever.
Denelian’s experimentation has paid off in a different type of song for them. They’ve set for a long time in the “we can and WILL make you dance” arena; now they’re moving into writing straight-up good songs. I’m excited to see how this arm of their songwriting develops. Until then, I’ll keep dancing to “The Paycheck Makes the Man.”