The Dwarves Invented Rock n' Roll seems to be an instinctual reaction against its predecessor. As much as the band members argue that their lyrics and music come from a cerebral place, Invented Rock seems to be primarily a product of the gut and the balls.
2004's The Dwarves Must Die was the band's last album before an extended break. Sort of a daring exhibition, the band brought everything from Hip Hop to techno to pop into their mix to prove just how far they could stretch their sound- and to make the argument that punk rock isn't a method, it's an ideology. Frontman Blag Dahlia continues to press that Must Die is one of the Dwarves greatest moments. Yet, after their 7-year recording break, the band seemed to feel that they had to prove themselves on the sprawling "comeback" album, The Dwarves are Born Again from 2011.
Born Again seemed to be a very tactical release. Across its 18 tracks (about 22 if you count the b-sides) the band exhibited everything that they had mastered, reinforcing that they could still kick out the minute hardcore banger and again showing that the pop-punk classic was but three chords away. Clearly a thought out release, the band had to prove to their audience that not only did they still have the goods, but they were still improving. The result was a classic Dwarves album resulting from careful planning.
But, what to do after a heralded comeback album? The answer, at least for the Dwarves, was to not over think it. In contrast to the extended gestation and thoughtful plotting of Born Again, Invented Rock was written and recorded extremely quickly with little thought as to the effect the songs would have. Instead of pondering a song's result, the band just felt the tunes while they were recording them.
The result is an album that shows that when the Dwarves surrender completely to their id, their collective ids love violence, love, and rock in its purest sense. Instinctually, (and in contrast to the exhibition of styles that was Born Again) the band seems to gravitate towards their opposite poles. Fitting that both poles reference the genesis of rock'n' roll itself.
On one hemisphere is classic hard charging, berserk Dwarves hardcore. Dahlia himself seems to come from the same place as he did on the classic drug addled Blood, Guts, & Pussy. On tracks like "Get up and get high," where he breaks into a room and pulls someone out of her bed for the sole purpose of gaining a drug pal, it seems he's still dealing with paranoia and poverty that is born from being an addict. "Gentlemen Blag" continues in the great tradition of self-promotion via James Brown, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. Blag spends the 73 second song talking about how great he is while whipping out his wiener. It's the frantic, wild rock song in its purest form.
But, on the other hemisphere, the band salutes the other great rock n' roll tradition- the love song. The Salt Peter penned "Trailer Trash" follows in the tradition of post-doo wop: Sweet melodies driven by a bouncing backbeat. That's something Frankie Valli made millions off of. Even "Sluts of the USA," despite its ode to cheap thrills, sounds like a soda fountain sock hop 45.
Though, while these songs seem to be born from instinct, the band is smart enough to go back over them and add a secondary level. Referencing the album title, the band hides references to the classic rock n rollers throughout, shifting the album into an Easter Egg hunt of history. There are Screamin' Jay Hawkins references, Van Halen references, and I think even a nod towards the Beatles. Blag Dahlia also mentions that his lyrics are the result of meticulous work and, in fact, that's what elevates these songs from just rock n' roll (which is certainly a fine thing to be) or just nasty punk, to something more rewarding. The aforementioned "Get up and get high" is as much a character study as it is a party chant. Rex Everything's (aka Nick Oliveri) "Love is Fiction" is a little more than just "I hate everything." It seems to not be the argument that title suggests, but rather, a plea from the speaker to the listener, begging the listener to prove that the title is wrong.
Still, despite the clever insertions into the primal rock, these songs don't seem to be plotted for a specific purpose. I doubt that the band thought "we need to write a song that says this" and then composed a song. More likely, they spewed out what came inherently and named it after it was born. These songs seem to be in the band 's instinct, and the band's instinct just happens to be the DNA of rock 'n' roll.
Hear the whole album right here.