June 15, 2013 by Tess Riley
Picture it. It’s rush hour on a crowded London tube. Suits, red nail varnish and crumpled, free newspapers surround you in a haze of early morning blur and despite so much proximity, everyone is motionless, staring intently into the distance yet focusing on nothing particular.
In the midst of this stasis, you press play and less than two seconds in to ‘Nature Nurture’, the voice of frontman Matt Bigland, takes flight, filling every inch of space in your mind until you can’t help but nod your head, so subtly at first that you think you’re still invisible.
Now remember, the tube is crowded. Remember, the tube is crowded and the people are motionless. This is the place for staring and standing still, remember, this is the place for expressionless faces and glazed expressions.
You can’t help it though. As ‘Nature Nurture’ sets off for a 37 minute sonic explosion of electric guitars and breathlessly energetic vocals, the music wins out and yes, you’ve become that person, on the tube in rush hour, head banging to the drum beats reverberating out of your headphones.
This is the second album for Britrock outfit Dinosaur Pile-Up, a band with its roots in the Leeds rock scene of the late 1990s. Like its predecessor, ‘Nature Nurture’ is very much the brainchild of Matt Bigland, whose musical vision has carved out DPU’s musical pathway to date.
“I wanted to write pop songs,” says Bigland of this second album, “… but pop songs that kick you in the face and wake you up, and I’m not sure we really have much of that at the moment.”
Wake you up it certainly does. An impressive first track leads seamlessly into arguably the best song on the album, ‘Derail’, a perfect example of why the amusingly-named Dinosaur Pile-Up has broken through the hoards of wannabe rock stars to prove that they’re doing more than merely echoing their peers, bands like Foo Fighers, Pixies and Feeder (to name just a few) to which they are often compared.
However, impressive start aside, the album starts to lose its way as subsequent songs begin to blur into one another and those of their predecessors, failing to stand out particularly when the vocals become led by the guitars rather than the other way around. There is a similar weakness in DPU’s debut LP, ‘Growing Pains’, and it feels like ‘Nature Nurture’ hasn’t fully conquered these pains of earlier years quite yet.
Despite this, things pick up again later on, with ‘Start Again’ reminding us of what DPU does best – infectious melodies, an impressive electro riff and a playful, syncopated beat that keeps listeners wanting more. The album then comes to a close with the title song, ‘Nature Nurture’, and as Bigland tells us to “pull out your hand and show what you got”, we’re reminded that he’s doing just that here. The gems are there, they just need a bit of teasing out.
This review first featured on Virgin Red Room right here.