Dance Gavin Dance – Happiness
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: June 9, 2009
I am in no way an expert on the genre of post-hardcore. I had to forcibly introduce myself to the genre last August, which was a difficult struggle, as the screaming vocals would often make me cringe. But I drew to it. Ironically, the first band I forced myself to listen to (and subsequently ended up liking) was Dance Gavin Dance. At the time, I wasn't aware of their third, self-titled release, so I stuck with Downtown Battle Mountain. Dance Gavin Dance has come a long way from their once humbled beginnings (even touring in Europe in November) and we come to their fourth release on Rise Records, Happiness.
Happiness is, more or less, a hit or miss album. The die-hard Downtown Battle Mountain fans could be more likely to stick to that album (or Emarosa) whereas fans of creativity and their self-titled album are probably more likely to enjoy this album more. Since the last album, singing vocals haven't changed much, as Kurt Travis still takes the mic. Screaming vocals are now taken over by guitarist Will Swan. Most fans will probably miss Jon Mess's screaming vocals. They were, after all, very unique and unmatched by most any screamer. Will, however, still does a fantastic job screaming. While it's difficult to understand him, he still isn't your generic screamer. He simply brings a different flavor than Jon does.
Within Happiness, the skill of each musician really shines. Some songs will be closer to your typical post-hardcore sound, but Dance Gavin Dance never ceases to throw in something different. "NASA," for example, doesn't start off typically, instead giving us a unique burst of guitar. "Carl Barker" starts us off with a funky lick, and the feeling remains with you throughout the song. If you're listening loud enough, you can hear all parts of the song, and it's very solid and flowing. Creativity also is something in this album that some fans might really dislike. I might be one of the only ones, but I believe Happiness is, by far, one of their better albums. I enjoyed Downtown Battle Mountain. I really did. But when you get a band willing to try something different with their music, my attention is drawn to the change. Happiness was the change Dance Gavin Dance needed. The creativity in the album is overflowing. We get songs without screams with the oddest of sounds (a la "Strawberry Swisher, Pt. 1"). We get the outrageously fun dance song, "Don't Tell Dave." They didn't feel the need to create songs that fit a certain mold set in by the post-hardcore genre. They branched out. Some could call the direction selling out, but I call it creativity.
Lyrically, I suppose this album lacks. Dance Gavin Dance throws in some interesting lines. "Carl Barker" has perhaps some of my favorite lines (but that might be because I'm a sap); "I guess I still miss you / But talking's for functioning people / You had always said we'd win the lottery someday / So I wouldn't have to go away." I haven't heard any band take a line and make it so catchy that I'm shouting it with my friends when we're listening to the song. But really? "Please girl stay to the early morning / We can have some coffee / You can do my laundry." At least the sound in "Strawberry Swisher, Pt. 1" make up for the ridiculous lyrics.
My lasting value might be biased because I'm becoming a bigger and bigger fan of this band every day. But I've had the album since the leak (then bought it when it was released) and it is almost always playing. That's nearly two months, and I don't recall an album that's be on play this long for me, and I'm sure this album will be on play for me for months ahead.
It's fair to say other's believe Mess wasn't a strong point in the band. However, I feel he was ages different than generic screams out there, like A Skylit Drive's screamer or In Fear And Faith. Not to say I dislike generic screams, I just like people who seem to stand out when it comes to screaming.
Still haven't checked this out, though I've been tempted. Always seems like there's something else I'd rather get. What kills it for me is that everyone says the lyrics are more of an afterthought to DGD, and I'm usually big on the lyrics.
This was a really good review. I don't know why people don't like this album. It was really good! I think Will Swan's screams or more bearable than Jon Mess's screams. I don't like Mess's screams. Carl Barker is one of my favorites as well. :)