5 great Dismemberment Plan tracks
Published on July 4th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
News that The Dismemberment Plan are set to release Uncanny Valley, their first new album for thirteen years, in October has been met with much excitement and comma usage at Rocksucker HQ.
Their three-album run between 1997 and 2001 of The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified, Emergency & I and Change is breathtakingly inventive, explosive, intricate, unorthodoxly* melodic and all rubber-stamped with the black-belt-level lyricism of Travis Morrison, also blessed with a delivery that matched the crashing rounds of laterally conceived instrumentation around him blow for blow.
(* Screw you wavy red underline, it’s a word)
It’s entirely possible that their first album, titled simply !, is also this good; goodness knows how this writer’s never gotten around to it, especially having listened to the three subsequent LPs so many times apiece. It’s being listened to during the editing process (which of course is now for us, later for you) and it sounds bang up/on. Bang upon? It’s great, basically, especially “Soon to Be Ex-Quaker”.
The Dismemberment Plan are yet to release a studio album since Change some twelve years ago but, in a year characterised by great comeback records, this is set to change in just a few short months.
Here are five examples of what they’ve got to live up to…
“Tonight We Mean It” and “The Ice of Boston” (from 1997 LP The Dismemberment Plan is Terrified)
Singling out the opening track always feels like a cop out but “Tonight We Mean It” is an exhilarating and ecstatic, uh, microcosm of what you can, uh, expect from this amazing, uh, band.
“The Ice of Boston” is hands down one of the greatest songs ever written. It’s melodic and sludgy in a first-three-albums-Pavement kind of way, and finds Morrison on particularly imperious form in the song’s second verse:
Pop open the third bottle of bubbly / Yeah and I take that bottle of champagne, go into the kitchen / Stand in front of the kitchen window and I take all my clothes off / Take that bottle of champagne and I pour it on my head / Feel it cascade through my hair and across my chest / And the phone rings, and it’s my mother / And she says, “HI HONEY, HOW’S BOSTON?” / And I stand there, all alone on new year’s eve / Buck naked, drenched in champagne, looking at a bunch of strangers / Uh, looking at them looking at me looking at them / And I say, “I’M FINE, MUM! HOW’S WASHINGTON?”
The chorus is to die for, and the third verse doesn’t half live up to the second:
I woke up at 3am with that Gladys Knight & the Pips song on / About how she’d rather live in his world with him rather than live in her own world alone / And I laid there, head spinning, trying to fall asleep / And I thought to myself, “Oh Gladys, girl, I love you but OH, GET A LIFE!”
Each of those verses are delivered in a kind of ‘speak sing’ reconcilable with David Byrne on “Once in a Lifetime”. No word of a lie, “The Ice of Boston” is worthy of such exalted status.
Shout out too for “One Too Many Blows to the Head”. Mighty, mighty track.
“You Are Invited and “The City” (from 1999 LP Emergency & I)
Each one a perfect synthesis of technology and beating human heart: the former by dint of clacking drum machine giving way to soul-enrichingly thrashy pop, the latter with a big, buzzing synth so lovely that you just want to hug it and squeeze it and call it George.
The lyrics to each are simply perfect, but then Emergency & I is pretty much a perfect album.
Perhaps the most perfect moment of this perfect album (if indeed comparitive forms of ‘perfect’ can be drawn, which they probably shouldn’t) is the philanthropic twist at the end of “You Are Invited”, which we shan’t spoil for you.
Furthermore the artwork is perfect, indescribably resonant with the music and simply ace in its own right. It’s the, uh, image in the above videos.
In a year that saw some spectacular leaps into the unknown take place – The Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin and Super Furry Animals’ Guerrilla, for instance – Emergency & I is right up there with the best of them.
“Sentimental Man” (from 2001 LP Change)
Again, opening track, cop out, yeah yeah. This just has to be our pick though, even coming from such a strong album.
It’s Talking Headsily, light-trippingly fantastic cosmic funk that catches perhaps the sweetest form of dissonance known to man and basks in its radiant glow in ridiculously exquisite fashion.
Morrison’s still on top of his game and all: “I’m an Old Testament kind of guy / I like my coffee black and my parole denied.”
We adored “Sentimental Man” upon first hearing it and its effect has dimmed not a jot. It takes flight and soars, just see if we’re not right.
The Dismemberment Plan achieved true greatness and sustained it for
at least three albums four albums (! is superb). Dare we dream of another so worthy after all this time?
Oh, we dare, alright.