'The Golden Age of Not Even Trying'- Dead! / Turned Up Louder
Starting a band with your friends, moving in together, making records and touring the country- it’s the kind of life so many young musicians dream of living. For south coast quartet Dead!, however, that life is not a dream- it is their reality. Since forming in 2012, the ambitious four-piece have built a name for themselves that centres around their grungy, dark, mysterious brand of indie rock that has garnered them a small but dedicated following who, following the release of several promising singles, have been waiting with bated breath for the band’s first full length release. And now it’s here, it’s called ‘The Golden Age of Not Even Trying’ and it was most definitely worth the wait!
Despite this being their debut record, Dead! are in no way lacking in self-assurance, most evident in the powerful riffs of ‘Petrol & Anaesthetic’ and the opener ‘The Boys + The Boys’: a track that is slick, full of swagger and, -dare I say it, sex appeal- created by the sultry grind of the low grungy bassline. However, balance comes in the thunderous opening drums and swooping slides of the guitars, - enhanced by a dabbling of funky reverb in the bridge - that elevate the track from giving in to the dark pull of the bass. However, if you fancy giving in to that mystique then check out ‘W9’, a slow, sultry ballad dripping in sly intrigue: it is a song whose melody is spun like a web from the reflective tranquillity, glowing streetlights and silence of the small hours, yet undercut by visceral lyrics that are much darker than they might first appear, which daub the listener’s mind with a gallery of potent and atmospheric images. Perhaps even more effective at creating a dark yet vivid atmosphere is the mid-tempo ‘Off White Paint’, which boasts a heavier bassline than might be expected from your typical indie rock track, but the bite and drive it provides the track means it is all the better for it. Especially when it is then interwoven with an electric guitar line which add a new dimension to the track and help create flashes of images of glaring strobe lights, dagger-sharp backwards glances and darkened alleyways shrouded in mystery- a whole world contained in miniature within the atmosphere of the song.
There are periods however where the slow ticking over of the mid-tempo melodies verges on becoming a little stagnant. While ‘A Conversation With Concrete’ boasts deep yet springy bass tones, and big rock riffs blended with a healthy dollop of indie melancholy, it’s not enough to stop this mid-tempo bop from fading somewhat into the background, and while the bouncier melody of ‘Any Port’ prevents it being bogged down by the grungy bass tones, it sadly seems to have lost some of the fierce drive present on the record’s earlier tracks. In spite of this, slow doesn’t always mean stagnant- the softer tones of ‘Jessica’ allows for an appreciation of the smooth grumble of the bass that takes centre stage in the opening verse, complimented by the odd flourish of noodling guitar work overtured by lyrics that speak of the heady haze of an imperfect, fractured relationship borne purely from the machinations of youth. Yet the control and finesse with which the layers of this track compliment each other demonstrates musical talent far beyond this young band’s years, as is also evident in the passion-packed slam poetry inspired bridge of ‘Youth Screams & Fades’ that begs to be shouted back up at the stage by a sweaty packed out crowd and highlights more than anything else this band’s potential to go on to dominate the big stages of tomorrow.
For me, however, where this record really shines is on the more upbeat tracks, which hint at a barely contained, angst-fuelled ferocity bubbling away beneath the surface. The record’s eponymous title track is big and bouncy and an undeniable indie rock anthem with its swinging choruses and irresistibly catchy melody, while old fan favourite ‘You're So Cheap’ comes crashing in, as grungy, melancholy and angst-driven as ever! And if you’re looking for your next road-trip soundtrack, look no further than ‘Up For Ran$om’, driven by pummelling drums and an intricate, powerful guitar line that will have no problem getting any underground rock club spinning! The undeniable jewel in this record’s crown, however, is guaranteed pit-starter ‘Enough Enough Enough’ with its relentless pace from the galloping drums and undulating bassline, peppered with the odd fierce scream which means the whole thing grizzles with barely contained ferocity that really showcases what this talented young band are capable of moving into the next stage of their careers.
As a debut full length from a band barely out of their teens, ‘The Golden Age of Not Even Trying’ is a huge accomplishment for Dead!. There is an undeniable thread that runs through the record that centres around a collection of bruising basslines, sliding classic rock riffs and introspective, melancholy vocals snatched straight from the indie records of old, which demonstrates the quartet’s ability to create a cohesive piece of work that ebbs and flows through each track as well as powerful singles that impress in their own right. Littered throughout this record there are moments of pure brilliance that hint at what the future looks like for this ambitious young band- and from where I’m standing, it looks to be a very bright one indeed.
‘The Golden Age of Not Even Trying’ is out on January 26th on Rise Records.
Check out the video for the record's title track below:
The band’s UK headline tour starts with an acoustic instore signing for the album in Kingston on the 26th, and the rest of the dates can be found below:
Fri 26 Kingston Banquet Records | Acoustic Instore
Sat 27 Leeds Crash Records | Acoustic Instore
Sat 27 Leeds Key Club
Mon 29 Manchester FOPP Records | Acoustic Instore
Mon 29 Manchester Star & Garter
Tue 30 Glasgow HMV Records | Acoustic Instore
Tue 30 Glasgow Garage Attic Bar
Wed 31 Birmingham Flapper
Thu 01 London 100 Club
Fri 02 Guildford Boiler Room
Sun 04 Bedford Esquires
Mon 05 Cambridge Portland Arms
Fri 09 Nottingham Bodega
Sat 10 Sheffield Record Junkee
Sun 11 Hull Polar Bear
Mon 12 Newcastle Think Tank
Wed 14 Edinburgh Opium
Mon 19 Oxford Cellar
Tue 20 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Wed 21 Bristol Louisiana
Thu 22 Plymouth Junction