The Dismemberment Plan - Uncanney Valley - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Dismemberment Plan - Uncanney Valley

by Steve Reynolds Rating:6 Release Date:2013-10-14

I am totally unfamiliar with The Dismemberment Plan. Shame on me, I guess, seeing as they formed in the early 90s in Washington DC and became a cult band, releasing four albums up to 2001. In 2013, they decided to put a halt to their hiatus and release their first album in over 10 years, Uncanney Valley. Led by gregarious and agitated frontman Travis Morrison, he of terse, curtailed and spiky lyrics, this album is layered with simple pop grooves.

Reminiscent of Ben Folds Five on breezy opener 'No One's Saying Nothing', Morrison sideswipes at the lack of interesting stuff people have to say: "Out till 3am with friends again/ Climbing up that fire escape... Do it again and again and again and again". 'Invisible' opens up the band's repertoire, featuring soaring synths and looping drums. Its vibrant arrangement is the very antithesis of Morrison's sour and tetchy lyrics: "Invisible, yeah, that's me/ If you look then you'll see right through me/ Someday I'm gonna make my move/ What have i got to lose?"

Unashamedly, Uncanney Valley is an album of indie-pop arrangements punctuated by their leader's twisted rhetoric and dogmatic lyrics. 'Looking's chorus of "What did you say? I'm sorry I was just looking" is set to verses about being content and familiar with a partner while lacking the enthusiasm to want to meet or do anything edgy or dangerous: "I'm lucky that you love me cause my luck really isn't that great". However, the repetition and the feel of self-deprecation doesn't have the sort of effect that a Morrissey lyric would.

Ending with 'Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight', Morrison is somewhat spunky and revived, and re-establishes contact with the listener, using a vast array of metaphors to get his point across: "You can be the salt and I can be the lime/ I can be the criminal and you can be the crime... I can be the train, you can be the tracks". Morrison then produces a section of call-and-response from his posse:"When I say cluster, you say fuck".

Twelve years of being away hasn't created the air of expectation like a new Stone Roses album would. Instead, Uncanney Valley does its level-best to encapsulate what a brand new band may do with their first offering. Unfortunately, what it does create is an album of consistent patchiness.

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