Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Record label: Old Flame Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
In 2010, Brooklyn Naught Wave trio DINOWALRUS released %, which was a rather ambitious mash up of the last thirty+ years’ worth of NYC fringe. Bred obviously from the same streets, or at least exposed to the same neighborhoods that brought about the genesis of bands like Suicide, The Ramones, Sonic Youth and Brian Eno era Talking Heads, DINOWALRUS’ well of inspiration was full to bursting and, consequently, so was their album. Following up, their new album Best Behavior, finds the band in a focused state of creative growth, the more synthesizer-oriented portions of % playing a prominent role in the band’s songwriting.
Always a weird one when Yanks try to be The Charlatans. Weirdly common too, for some reason. Dinowalrus singer (and sometime Titus Andronicus guitarist) Pete Feigenbaum channels his inner Burgess to intriguing effect on this, and while musically the band’s palette is slightly wider than their singer’s – a smidgen of BSP here, a bit of early Primals there – ‘Best Behaviour’ is by no means a disaster.
The presumptions of our smash-and-dash listening culture can make it difficult to suggest a band's attention-worthy not for what you're hearing, but for what you might be hearing down the road. That struck me as the case with Dinowalrus' 2010 debut %, a classic fixer-upper, a flawed yet promising record that showed obvious chops, taste, and ambition but not enough in the way of artistic vision: It knelt before the influence of post-punk and no-wave provocateurs alike, but without a similarly pioneering impulse, it felt regressive, a defense mechanism for a band that might not have been sure about its own capability. Best Behavior is far more accessible and enjoyable than %, but presents a strange conundrum on how to assess whether this is a legitimate leap or realization of potential: Is the slate of identifiable influences this time simply preferable to the previous ones? It's a curious thing, because they haven't changed too much in terms of actual musicianship, even with the significant turnover in personnel.
Outside the UK, there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground when it comes to the Second Summer of Love—either you’d give your favorite limb for a time machine set to the glory days of the Haçienda, or you have no idea what this sentence is referring to. For the latter, a quick explanation: the moment (roughly 1988-1989 in Manchester, England), like the first Summer of Love (roughly 1967 in San Francisco, California), was born of an unlikely confluence of radical new pop music and, more importantly, radical new drugs. In Manchester, the drug was ecstasy.
Best Behavior is the second full-length from Brooklyn’s Dinowalrus. It’s an ecstasy-fueled roller coaster ride through the sounds of the ’80s Manchester club scene, updated with Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion studio wizardry and voiced by Pete Feigenbaum sounding like the younger brother of The Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler. Despite the interesting combination of influences, the scattershot results show a band that knows how to create a song but not quite yet an album.
Brooklyn’s Dinowalrus has filmed a rooftop video before, which is very 2000s, but the band’s frontman, Pete Feigenbaum, was a touring guitarist for Titus Andronicus and, aesthetically, belongs on Delancey Street circa 1982. Together these two eras mesh in a dreamy, psych-rock sound impregnated with a wide range of influences: Spaceman 3 (minimalistic psychedelia), New Order (new wave electro), Liars (dance/noise rock) and Silver Apples (acid rock). Feigenbaum, sound designer/synth and bass player Liam Andrew and drummer Max Tucker have birthed the perfect concoction of guitar riffs, synthesizer wails, the mullet, 1980s reverb and two awesome animals, the dinosaur and the walrus.