Dillinger Four - C I V I L W A R
Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Release Date: October 14, 2008
In the land of the free, I asked for nothing / And I got it in spades.
There is no better time for an album like C I V I L W A R, the long-awaited fourth full-length release from Minnesota's punk rock sons, Dillinger Four. Arguably their best album to date (alongside 2000's Versus God), C I V I L W A R is a new stitch in a damaged American flag; it's the healthy new dose of oxygen we are severely in need of in a crippled music industry starved of substance. Full of melodic anthems that speak to the individuals who work hard to make this country function, it's a record that moves along swiftly while full of chaotic energy that drips with grit, sweat and remains an alarm to the system.
Tightly packed together around dynamite, C I V I L W A R explodes right from the start and never halts in giving prescriptions of punk wisdom and sarcastic rhetoric from four regular Midwestern dudes who like two things: music and beer (and maybe a little attitude in-between). Spliced with humorous bits of 1950's suburbia speak (and a Chipmunks reggae bit before the final cut), the record is a message of better times fallen apart, giving indication that we no longer live in a Leave It to Beaver world -- we are facing crises our generation has never expected and Dillinger Four points out the hypocrisy, the plastic-faced celebrity-obsessions and the greed we have all divulged in to bring us here with 13 rip-roaring tracks that never buy-in to trends, feel too done up or try too hard -- D4 is being D4, and doing it better than they ever have.
Erik Funk's gravel-laced vocals command the record like a punk rock ringleader with Patrick "Paddy" Costello's brooding chops taking the reigns of some of the most powerful, angrier and more sincere tracks ("parishiltonisametaphor" and "Fruity Pebbles," most notably). The record is audibly more melodic than previous releases, with a focus on pop-infused choruses and hooks, all while still containing that raw focal point the band has continually reached for on past albums. "Like Eye Contact in an Elevator" and "Gainesville" are two particularly successful examples, the latter an ideal single pick for radio (it would almost certainly earn them a sea of new listeners); the great thing about the use of more melody is that is amplifies the band's identity as curator's of fast-fueled, hard-pounding aggressive rock. "clown cars on cinder blocks" throws down a whip of anarchic celebration with the refrain of "drown the pain with cheap champagne and wake me when it's time to go."
Swimming in bass, "Contemplate this on the tree of woe." is both lavish in its execution of pop-deliciousness and spot-on with the simple yet effective siren of "They can cover their ears but we won't stop screaming." Percussion-soaked "The Classical Arrangement" could be labeled the band's most endearing cut, meticulously handled by Funk's cigarette-smoke-bathed vocals who candidly lament, "I have faith, I have faith in me / Faith in things that I can see." One thing is glaringly clear: Dillinger Four have revitalized faith in a punk scene gone awry, slapping it awake with dignity and refined, clear attitudes in how to properly straddle the line of pop and punk without getting too far ahead of yourself.
For those of us looking for the new soundtrack to turn to in times of dire consequences and broken souls, C I V I L W A R just might be the declaration of hope, the comfort in the fear and the hand that tears the white flag apart -- all while raising a glass to a bountiful revolution upon the horizon.
This review is a user submitted review from Chris Fallon. You can see all of Chris Fallon's submitted reviews here.
I can't believe it's been 6 years since "situationest comedy" (which was my second favorite album of 2002, after Lawrence Arms "apathy & exhaustion")
these guys are genuine, this is punk for the sake of making music and nothing else. they all have day jobs that pay them more than being in D4. they do this for the love.
their lyrics are amazing, it's their lyrical depth and raw energy that is sorely lacking in most punk & emo & pop/punk whatever music these days. great to have them back with a solid album (based on one listen, they actually carried this at my local Best Buy!)