Album Review: Dance Gavin Dance - Artificial Selection
Artist: Dance Gavin Dance
Album: Artificial Selection
Release Date: 8 June 2018
Review by Tomina Vincent
Just two years after the release of their most recent album Mothership, Dance Gavin Dance have steered said ship back into the music world, rather quickly, with their latest offering, Artificial Selection (Out this Friday, June 8). This is the band’s 8th studio album and overall 11th release, and with a career spanning 12 years, two things are clear: they have nothing more to prove, and they are excited.
This record is quite astounding. It is energised, emotionally charged, intriguing and beautifully produced. Vocalist Tilian Pearson has an ethereal and superbly unique tone that is undoubtedly not to everyone’s taste, but to the ears of any Dance Gavin Dance fan, he has once again fulfilled the most important aspect of his role in the band since joining in 2012, and that is the ability to convey intense emotion and colourise the characteristically melancholy tone that has defined the group’s sound since it’s inception.
With this vulnerability in tow, Artificial Selection proceeds to surprise in its overall mood and aesthetic. It is a significantly more progressive record from the band, building on the foundations of their previous effort, 2016’s Mothership. Perhaps confusingly, while the structures and musical movements have expanded into this realm, the melodies remain big and particularly memorable, incorporating a pop sensibility that will undoubtedly translate beautifully live. Most of the songs on this album are made to sing along to, especially the flamboyant "Suspended In This Disaster" - a stadium worthy anthem that spreads its sonic reach across many genres, and ultimately has the ability to convey universal emotions that many audiences can connect with.
Although Dance Gavin Dance were briefly, and likely wrongly, considered to be a part of the Emo movement of the late 2000’s, they have certainly managed to remain relevant and fresh. Tracks like "Count Bassy" mix and match between genres, creating quite a fun combination, combining almost Dead Letter Circus- esque vocals with double kicks and r-n-b ridden verses. The ultra-aggressive "The Rattler" is a big nod to the chaos of The Dillinger Escape Plan with its grueling rhythms and emotive aggression, and surprisingly works well as it opens to a chorus almost too pretty to be in the same room as the verses. The distinctly The Used inspired Shelf Life features guest vocals by former DGD vocalist Kurt Traviswhich is guaranteed to immediately pluck at the heart strings of any long time fan. Other stand out tracks include the oddly poppy "Gospel Burnout" and the epic super heavy closer, "Evaporate."
Again and again, Artificial Selection delivers a plethora of elegant and brave surprises, making it a rather compelling listen. What’s most surprising about this record however, is that even though it’s quite a long listen, there isn’t a single bad song on it. The track listing is smart and the flow of the record smooth and cohesive. With the exception of a couple of annoyances, like the sometimes inconsistent production and the lack of slower, quieter songs, Dance Gavin Dance have delivered an album worthy of attention.
9 out of 10.
Artificial Selection is out June 8th via Rise Records. Order your copy HERE.