Review: Dance Gavin Dance - Afterburner
Chances are if you’re reading this review, you’re very familiar with the work and style of Dance Gavin Dance as they’ve cemented a legacy and built a hardcore legion of fans throughout their career despite many changes at the vocalist positions. By the slim chance you’re not accustomed the the signature sound of Dance Gavin Dance, they are known for their meshing of post-hardcore heavily influenced by The Fall of Troy as well as a strong respect for danceable funk and poppy melodies. With their sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek lyrics the band has endeared themselves to fans as one of the most reliable in the scene. Coming into Afterburner, their 9th studio effort, the band has seemingly finally settled on a lineup that has the potential to remain consistent for years to come.
Afterburner begins with Prisoner, which was one of the singles used to promote the record and with good reason. This isn’t just one of my favorite opening tracks of any Dance Gavin Dance record, it might just be one of my favorite tracks they’ve ever made. The track is undeniably fun and will put a smile on your face with it‘s funky flavor and the somehow laid back screaming style of Jon Mess. That’s not to discount the soaring voice of Tillian Pearson either has his performance is outstanding with massive range. If there was ever a song or just a band in general that creates summer anthems in the core scene it is undoubtedly Dance Gavin Dance as they’re one of very few bands in this style that are capable of changing your mood to a sense of happiness and this track specifically does a wonderful job of such. The last single released before the album, Lyrics Lie is another standout with some of the funniest lyrics on the record. I’ve always enjoyed the playful nature of Jon Mess’ screamed vocals and this song is perfectly used by the band to illustrate how people look too deep into lyrics and should just enjoy the music for what it is. Also with noting is that this is the first Dance Gavin Dance track that Tillian Pearson has ever screamed on.
Calentamiento Global is a surprising song even for a band like Dance Gavin Dance. Tillian Pearson’s verses are fully in Spanish which is a nice tribute to the bands Latino fans and also just a nice touch of something different. The band manages to morph their progressive post-hardcore nature with a smooth Latin vibe and it works rather nicely. On paper this may not sound like the ideal formula for a good song but the band is talented enough to give it their own charm. Three Wishes is among my personal favorites on Afterburner, largely for its semi-viral Jon Mess lyrics “multiple stab wounds yeah!”. This track has a lot of groove and a classic DGD danceability to it. The more I hear this track the more I enjoy it. One In A Million rolls the album forward and this is a song that’ll translate extremely well live in my opinion. I could see this being a staple of the bands live show for at least the next few record cycles to come.
Parody Catharsis as well as Strawberry’s Wake are both are classic formula Dance Gavin Dance songs in the best way possible. Here we get everything the band has built their reputation on. From fun and noodly guitar riffs to the back and forth between Tillian Pearson’s angelic high singing voice and Jon Mess’ chaotic screaming style. This record also features some darker moments than you might be used to hearing on a Dance Gavin Dance release but not to the extent that it takes over the general feeling or vibe of the record. We even get some trap style rap on Into the Sunset which is admittedly a bit goofy but I believe it was intended to come off that way and presents itself in an end reading nature. The feature from Johnny Franck, Bilmuri and ex-Attack Attack!, was excellent as well. The chemistry between this pairing can be felt through the speakers.
It seems Dance Gavin Dance can do no wrong since the addition of Tillian Pearson as clean vocalist. I know that may be an unpopular opinion to long time fans but I feel the band has truly hit their stride in their recent run of records. Afterburner sees the band deliver on all the things diehard fans want to hear but still somehow come up with new ideas and push limits the band hasn’t previously tested. There wasn’t a single skip-able song on this record for me. Afterburner is one of those rare albums that is a joy to listen to from top to bottom and I’ll have it in my rotation for at least the rest of the year. Afterburner gets a 5 out of 5 stars from us.