Even before you hear their music, it’s very easy to find yourself predisposed to love Dinosaur Pile-Up. Just look at their cute moniker – it’s bursting with imagination, full of potent suggestion and ripe with happy childhood memories of playing out fight scenes with plastic tyrannosaurs and stegosauri. Now glance over at that album cover of a chap falling flat on his face – how can they go wrong with such bare-faced self-mockery? Of course, that’s a rhetorical question – you’re better off asking a politician about self-mockery if you actually want a serious answer.
DPU clearly do understand the concept of experimentation, as over the course of their first two albums they’ve set about dumping the twee-ness that made their EP so discardable. Now sporting beefed up electric guitars and with plenty of throbbing bass thunder inserted whereever they can find space for it, they’ve cultured a grungier rock vibe that has placed them firmly back in time, mimicking bands that are either now defunct or have moved away from their original sounds.
So, where exactly do they intend to fit in? Certainly, by starting and ending with a bang, bookending Nature Nurture with their best material, they give themselves a chance here. Opener ‘Arizona Waiting’ is ripe with blasting bottom-end, a lush wedge of Weezer-esque harmonics and a bitter Deftones-esque minor drop, whilst closer ‘Nature Nurture’ burns with a precise, spacious and single-minded two-key chorus. When something this simple forms the album highlight, there’s surely something awry.
The trouble with the running order here is that they spend every track in between carefully placing their feet on paths well-worn by their heroes. ‘Draw A Line and ‘Derail’ rockgasm over a spot of Foo Fighters riff-and-chug teasing, whilst ‘Summer Gurl’, ‘Start Again’, with it’s fluorescent electro riff, and the delicate touches within ‘The Way We Come’ are bruised with Feeder and Ash colourings. Really dig around and you’ll hear the rip-chords and quicker time signature of early-Nirvana in ‘Heather’ and the warm tones of the long-forgotten Arlo glistening through both ‘Peninsula’ and the gorgeous cruise tune ‘White T-Shirt and Jeans’. Tried and trusted methods are employed like the split quiet-loud verses and the short pause before the happyslap of the chorus hits. Essentially, it’s paint-by-numbers songwriting, which is fine if you’re filling holes, but a little more innovation would go a long way.
So, where do they go from here? Well, settling on a signature sound would be a start, be that through greater employment of their enigmatic, tone-changing minor chords or, perhaps, aiming to unsettle the listener with odd, possibly even angry, passages that demand self-introspection upon the listener. Dinosaur Pile-Up remain as lovable as ever but, oddly, considering their position, they appear determined to remain unambitious and, therefore, are in danger of becoming irrelevant. So, whilst the Foo Fighters have chosen to evolve and the more elegiac Feeder still get away with shifting thousands of units a week, on this form, Dinosaur Pile-Up seem destined to remain the poor man’s alternative.