|Dinosaur Pile-Up - 'Growing Pains' (Friends Vs Records)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Monday, 04 October 2010 05:00|
Do you remember how every potentially great album needed a great story behind its creation? Whether it be dubious tales of demonic intervention and bills equalling the number of the beast or band members losing their minds, limbs or even their lives, a story with an angle by which to batter the press is always thought of as a winning ideal, much better than men walk into studio - pick up instruments - make record.
But what if that was the story? What if it was just one man who walked into a studio but, instead, picked up all the instruments and made a record? Well, that is the story behind 'Growing Pains', the debut album from Dinosaur Pile-Up or, in fact, Matt Bigland, for it is he who walked into a studio and, with a serious nod to his idol Dave Grohl, played every instrument and sung every note on twelve tracks that easily form one of the better albums of the year.
Bigland, after a period in the Leeds-based band Mother Vulpine (alongside Tom Hudson, now of Pulled Apart By Horses), created Dinosaur Pile-Up and, in between bouts of gigging with the likes of The Pixies and The Automatic, managed to squeeze in the release of two singles, the dirty bomb infectiousness of debut 'My Rock 'n' Roll' and the riff explosion of its follow-up 'Traynor'. Both survive and reappear on 'Growing Pains', recorded over an intense two month period with producer James Kenosha, though it has to be said that, such is the quality of song on offer on the album, these two songs don't particularly stand out instead locking fingers with ten other tunes to form a real fist of a long player.
"The 'G' Word" is the term now bandied about in reference to the grunge scene of the 1990's, further proving that the whole movement (no pun intended) was just one big fashionable trend. But, just like flares and skateboards, there are always edgy young bastards willing to adhere to the much-lauded twenty year cycle rule and dig into the past for the next steps into their futures. Like the Violent Soho album that appeared earlier this year, 'Growing Pains' has taken the dirtiest, heaviest yet also more accessible moments of the grunge explosion and fashioned them into a modern blend of hook-laden ear candy that Bigland himself labels 'heavy alternative pop'. Sure, the spectre of Grohl's former band - the name escapes me - appears from time to time, and the press would love to point you in the direction of Weezer and Pavement (there are moments on the record that are hard not to spot through the NHS-tinted spectacles of the former, 'Broken Knee' for example), but the bands that really got a shoe-up into mass consciousness on the back of the 'G' word two decades ago, bands who got lumped into the whole 'scene' purely because they were deemed 'alternative' by vacuous music papers and shameless PR, are perhaps more likely to spring to mind when listening to this album. The startling return to power pop perfection of The Posies this year makes them hard not to reference, and also long-forgotten and criminally-underloved UK rays of sunshine Silver Sun cross my mind on several occasions over the course of this album, but it has to be said that Matt Bigland has taken the melodious majesty of those bands and injected it with fat, dirty riffmongery that, at times, reminds me of the 90's versions of Ginger and CJ, with album opener (and lead single) 'Birds & Planes' being possibly the perfect example of this in just under three and a half minutes.
While the majority of the album's songs take on a gloriously grimy generic mix of distorted guitar and massive hooks, there are times when swathes of subtlety bind the speakers - the opening of 'Hey You', for example, and the hidden track that makes an appearance after what seems like a day or two after excellent final track 'All Around The World'.
This review could possibly have just consisted of the words 'big', 'guitars', 'massive' and 'hooks' and the Über Röck Approved icon and enough of you cool people would have checked it out, but 'Growing Pains' got to me; affected me and excited me. Ice age/meteorite/Christianity not withstanding, this is one dinosaur that we should be hearing a lot more from. A great debut that comes highly recommended.