Album Review: Dance Gavin Dance – Acceptance Speech

imageDance Gavin Dance release 6th studio effort ‘Acceptance Speech’ and with this album it feels as if they’ve pulled out all the stops to layer up and create a texture that’s gives something new up on each listen. The clash of clean and gruff shouted vocals amongst a lush melodic backdrop that swings like a pendulum between proggy outlandishness and galloping riffs and double kick bass drums is at times disorienting but worth the listen.

With their revolving door attitude to lineups, only Jon Mess remaining a constant member throughout, the band have always been willing to experiment over their albums with different sounds with each new lineup, and previous clean vocalists brought their own sound while occasionally sounding a little jarring against the instrumental backdrop. There does seem to be a step in a more complex musical direction with the addition of vocalist Tilian Pearson.

’Doom and Gloom’ really highlights singer Tilian’s almost falsetto voice well, in a call and response against Jon Mess’ gruff throaty yelling. The resulting argument of voices with the driving guitar whipping up is entrancing, and the fret board tapping as the breakdown comes in sounds like an oncoming electrical storm building charge. Their voices work in a symbiotic way that really helps make a lot of the moments on the record. ‘Carve’ threatens to be an all out beatdown moment and is retrieved through the sung refrain. there are odd moments of rapping that confuse the hell out of me, but i think they get away with it. However, the ever so slightly creepy lyrics on ‘Honey Revenge’ about not letting your lover get away are only really carried off well by Pearson’s Saccharine sweet vocals so, ”..whether you want it or not..” stops being a threat and becomes a slightly deluded sounding admission of desire.

The guitarwork here is full of riffs more intricate than a grand maze, with the squealing under parts of ‘Strawberry Swisher pt.3’ almost fooling me into thinking I’m listening to ‘In Keeping Secrets’ era Coheed and Cambria. In ‘The Jiggler’ the switch between wah-wah guitars into heavy breakdown then back is executed brilliantly, with Mess’ heavy vocal crashing in to the almost jam band style reverie, while ‘Demo Team’ has cutting of the vocal against a driving riff that makes it sound like a science fiction horror where someone’s been caught inside a teleporter. Closing track ‘Turn off The Lights, I’m Watching Back to the Future pt.2’ throws some chaotic turns into the choruses while a guitar that swaggers about in almost funky way fills in the verses nicely enough, but it gets a tad exhausting over its 6 minute runtime.

While it sounds ambitious, some tracks feel occasionally as if they could have done with a bit of a prune to stop them getting too unruly. Otherwise this layered and elaborate album is worth a listen as each listen reveals new facets to enjoy. It might not be your favourite record this year, but there’s a lot to get your ears around.


‘Acceptance Speech’ by Dance Gavin Dance is available now on Rise Records.

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Words by Heather Robertson (@thecuriosity).


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