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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Dismemberment Plan
DeSoto Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
I think I have treated this record unlike any other record that I have had the pleasure (or displeasure, in most cases) of reviewing for Lost at Sea. I have probably listened to "Change" about twenty-five times before even thinking about reviewing it, whether it be riding around in my van or doing homework in my room. I have even offered it to other folks to get their interpretation of it, prompting fellow Lost at Sea staff writer Trevor Naud to comment, "Dude, it sounds like the Dave Matthews Band." After all that trouble, I am left essentially where I started, without a damn clue of what I really think about the Dismemberment Plan's latest release.

One constant idea that has been rolling around my head, and it is something that I think is important to take into account, is the fact that Emergency & I, the last release by the D-Plan, is a fantastic album, that barrels along like a runaway train (never commin' back!). The brilliant melodies, narrative lyrics, and equal parts post-rock and angular pop songs that make up Emergency & I pushed the album to the top of many folks lists as best record of 1999, and rightfully so. Creating a record so good, though, must be hard to follow up, right?

So now, the D-Plan offer Change, a record that contains many of the same elements that made Emergency & I great, but somewhat fails to take them any farther. But, can an evaluation of a record really be that easy?

I could take the easy way out, and say things like "The Dismemberment Plan fail to capture the urgency and creativeness of Emergency & I," or "The Dismemberment Plan crumble under the pressure of following up a fantastic and refreshing album," and blah blah blah. It is important to acknowledge, however, that there IS PRESSURE when great things start to be said about your band, and although I would like to think that the D-Plan do not care about critical acclaim, it would be hard to avoid knowing that people did freak out over your last record.

And yes, Change does sound a hell of a lot like Emergency & I, but that is by no means saying that it should be written off as a complete failure. Where simple choruses would roar out of wordy verses in the past, Change takes the foundations and structures of a pop song, sometimes simplifying them down to a groove, or in or in other cases, a crazy story that seems more like a sit-com than a typical love song.

Change can be listened to in three movements. The first movement begins quite simply, establishing a groove that runs throughout the albums first three tracks, "Sentimental Man", "Face of the Earth", and "Superpowers," and ends on a with a classic D-Plan rock out in the form of the guitar fueled "Pay For the Piano." The second section, or what I have dubbed the "shitty" section, slumps with the boring and thrown together "Come Home", the cheesy fake rocker "Secret Curse", and the terrible acoustic blandness of "Automatic", which fails to even establish some kind of a melody. In the third section, the record, however, takes a dramatic turn, and ends on a high note. It starts off with the catchy "Following Through", which features an opening drum fill that snaps you awake after "Automatic" puts lulls you to sleep. The real gem of the record, the live staple "Time Bomb" almost makes you forget about section two, as lead singer Travis Morrison powerfully exclaims "I am a time bomb and I only live in that one moment in which you die." "The Other Side" capitalizes on the surge of energy established in the prior tracks, and rolls along like a punkier version of the Sea and Cake, with great stop start bass playing by the underrated Eric Axelson. The record ends with an amusing tale of love in the form of "Ellen and Ben" as Morrison uses the same technique employed on "You Are Invited," to almost make you visualize the situation he details.

If you are a fan of the Dismemberment Plan, Change may be hard to grasp at first, not because it is an extremely challenging record, but because of it's overall limbo state. This is not to say, however, that it is by any means a bad record. Although not much Change was really made from Emergency & I the Dismemberment Plan certainly remain exciting, creative, and entertaining. Where some bands prefer to take roads all to well traveled, the Dismemberment Plan merge musical styles and ideas seamlessly, and on Change they certainly succeed in that endeavor.

Reviewed by Ryan Allen
A former staff writer with fabulous hair, Ryan Allen once fronted Red Shirt Brigade with his brother, Scott. He currently fronts the art/fashion punk band Thunderbirds Are Now!, with is brother, Scott.

See other reviews by Ryan Allen



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