Die! Die! Die! – Form
On the opening track Caseman, Andrew Wilson sings “I’m not giving up on our love” and it sums up the approach Die! Die! Die! have taken on their third album Form. They still sound vibrant with that heady, controlled rush of chaos, tinged with desperation and angst. With the greatness of their second album Promises, Promises the band didn’t receive anywhere near the plaudits they deserved and there were questions whether they could write a better album. The good news is they have and it is one of the best albums of 2010.
Die! Die! Die! inhabit the same world as Jay Reatard and Wavves but they also flirt with notions of post-hardcore and post-punk. The attitude is raw and uncompromising but the music isn’t dumbed down or reduced to merely an outpouring of anger. Melodies cascade with almost careless abandon, not just vocally but also from the trio’s strings and drums.
The guitars on Form are like mystical shapeshifting creatures, morphing from shoegaze shimmer to coruscating, brittle weapons to decaying, fuzzy memories. Behind the guitars the rhythm section of Lachlan Anders (bass) and Michael Prain (drums) are rock solid, almost military-like in their precision and determined advance. Prain’s cymbal work and fills on How Ye is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. The following track Daze shows off another angle of his playing with an infinitely danceable, shuffling breakbeat.
Credit must also go to producer Nick Roughan (Skeptics, Shihad, Dimmer, David Kilgour) who is responsible for the sonic architecture of many of the great records that have come out of New Zealand. He adds a sheen and crispness to the sound of Form without sacrificing the haze and depth that it possesses. It makes for a devastatingly good listen, especially on a song like Paquin with its warm, tumbling immediacy perfectly married with the grit and burr of the distorted guitars.
There really isn’t a misfire or lull on Form. The band maintains their hypnotic attack with great balance and though the tempo and pressure levels of the music are high they don’t overplay their hand. To find what may be the highlight of Form buried at the end of the album shows the embarrassment of songwriting riches they are working with at the moment. Frame recalls great Kiwi bands like Love’s Ugly Children and The Lils with its surging rhythm and Wilson’s melancholic vocal riding on top with killer lines like ‘Even in the dead of summer you’re in winter’. Initially it teases that it may be the quiet album closer before everything kicks in and biting shoegaze guitars take hold.
Form proves that there is still life in music pioneered by bands like Wedding Present and furthered by the many sonic architects that have followed. Die! Die! Die! are on top of their game and there is no option but to surrender and be dragged into the slipstream of their sound.