1999, Music

Emergency & I (1999) by The Dismemberment Plan

Now this is right up my alley: indie rock that veers into post hardcore on occasion and also gets mathy.

Now, I have never heard them before and I have no idea what their earlier albums sound like but I get the sense that this is maybe a little poppier than their earlier stuff. If that’s true, I probably want to listen to that stuff too, as I quite like this.

The band have a strong sense of melody, or at least strong enough to make up for Morrison’s voice – which is hardly compelling – and the band’s penchant playing rhythms and riffs that aren’t the most commercial.

Morrison’s lyrics are thoughtful enough to be interesting if you pay attention but, for me anyway, lyrics are not usually my priority with music like this. Anyway, they’re fine and some of them are pretty good. He is more than a little indebted to Stephen Malkmus, it feels like, but I think that’s more in the sound of his voice than in the actual words coming out of his mouth.

The real star, though, is the arrangements, knottier than they need to be more often than not and featuring various post hardcore touches – screaming, fairly random bursts of noise – which are usually not found in “indie rock” at this late stage.

So I really like this. A fair amount. But I really struggle with its critical reputation: it has near-universal acclaim and Pitchfork named it the best album of the year. (Because of course they did.) This is good, mathy, noisy indie rock. It’s mathier than most indie rock and noisier than most indie rock (of 1999). And that’s good. But it’s no “game changer” and it’s still pretty damn easy to play spot the influences if you are so inclined – the most obvious being Pavement but Fugazi is also present. And I just have a really hard time thinking of this album as a masterpiece or the best album of the year.

But I do really like it.


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