Layered, complex, melodic, heavy. What more can you really ask for? I’m a little late to the draw, but recently gave DANCE GAVIN DANCE’s latest offering “Mothership” a couple spins. After getting over the mathcore goodness that is leading single “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise,” I was able to delve into the rest of the record and critically analyze it. Here we’ve got DGD in classic form, complete with up-tuned barre chords, blistering mathematic riffs, soaring clean vocals from Tilian Pearson, uncleans from Jon Mess, but not without the band bringing a few surprises they were holding in their back pocket to keep things interesting.
GAVIN is one of those bands that is almost instantly recognizable by their unique sound. It’s a quality I can really appreciate. Most of my favorite bands are those that really stand out in terms of an uncharacteristic sound and experimentation. DGD is lacking in neither category; there simply aren’t too many groups that sound quite like them today. As such, I enjoy their work and “Mothership” was no exception. I love the sharp, introspective lyrics delivered by Pearson, the bite of Mess’s harsh vocals, and the sweeping, complicated riffs spun out relentlessly by lead guitarist Will Swan. GAVIN just seem, with each new offering, to always be a few steps ahead of mathcore/post-hardcore pack.
Of course there’s the undeniable divide created by the departure of original vocalist Jonny Craig, who is now a solo artist, but I’ll be frank in saying I prefer the stylings of Pearson quite a bit more. It’s not that he’s necessarily better by any subjective definition, but just that he’s a little higher, a little more breathy, and seems to fit the overall style of GAVIN more in my opinion. Pearson is not Craig, but the soulfulness that defined the band is still there in a big way. As such, the change-up in vocals doesn’t affect my view of GAVIN’s music as much as how their instrumentation has changed over the years. And it has.
The flight of the “Mothership” marks a solidification in the new sound of GAVIN as a band – fast, unapologetic, but still as melodic as such chaotic tunes could be. It’s easy to listen and get lost in Pearson’s soulful lilts and forget you’re listening to a post-hardcore band, only to be jolted back to reality by Mess and that ruthless double-bass drum. But take heart, the pounding you receive will undoubtedly be soothed eventually by some soft melody you weren’t expecting. And this is all while receiving a sort of sonic hypnosis by that lead guitar that adds layer and depth to the overall sound.
If you liked “Instant Gratification,” prepare to board the “Mothership.” The flight is departing soon and you won’t be disappointed.