by Robby Beck
Describing Dope Body to someone unfamiliar to them can make for an awkward conversation. They're one of those bands like tUnE-yArDs or Dirty Projectors who have assembled for themselves such a distinct style that even though you can pick apart somewhat obvious influences, no one else really sounds like them. They describe their own sound as "Progressive Funk / Crust Yuppie"; it's part sludge metal, part dance music, part post-hardcore, part Andrew WK, and I'd even argue for some pop punk in there.
Take one of the first songs you'll run into on this album, "Road Dog". It begins with intensely played drums that start softly but subtly rise in volume, and you get the imagery of the ground of a metropolitan city rumbling as a giant monster is making it's way. You expect the band's music to be the soundtrack to that city's demolition. But suddenly, something else happens; the drums start playing a beat that you might find in a pop punk tune, or maybe a dance song. Some thick bass comes in, but the line it plays doesn't sound exactly that intimidating either. The vocals are gruff, but playful. And when the guitars finally come in, the tone is as thick as the metal song you might've been expecting, but they're playing a riff so catchy you'll never get it out of your head. You suddenly find yourself thinking "...this is the funnest thing I've ever heard." (okay maybe not ever but you get my point) The almost-graceful melodies the guitars play in the bridge only helps the fun-loving mood of the song. By the end of the song, you find that instead of angrily destroying the city, the monster I mentioned earlier is playfully destroying it, playing hopscotch and inviting its monster movie friends to join in on the merriment
Merriment, I think, is the general reaction the band wants out of the listener throughout this album. Some songs like "Beat" or "Out of My Mind" are more lumbering and play up the Melvins-like sludge metal influence more clearly; but those tracks are no less fun. The almost calypso flavors on "Twice the Life" seem out of place, but dear god they work so well. Songs like "Powder" and "Weird Mirror" bring a bright, sunny atmosphere while maintaining the intense level of energy. No matter what this band is playing, that's something they never lack; energy.
One of the best things about this record is how natural it feels. Even though this music is very forceful, none of the elements Dope Body brings into their concoction never feel forced. I can't think of an addition or a sound brought in that takes anything away from any given song. Besides an underwhelming opening track and a hidden track that isn't quite worth the extra time (really, what's the point of hidden tracks in the digital age?), I can't say much wrong about this release. Whether it stands out as one of the best of the year is up to you; but I say now it will definitely be one of the most unique.
score: decent-strong 8
(Robby enjoys dope music. And bad puns. And monster movies. Nevertheless, follow him on twitter @ClydeNut)