Dinosaur Pile-Up - Celebrity Mansions (Cover Artwork)

Dinosaur Pile-Up

Celebrity Mansions (2019)


Unsurprisingly, I get exposed to more UK-based bands than some of my PN colleagues because, well, I live here. More often than not, it means I get to bang the drum for new or underground bands that haven’t yet gained sufficient notoriety or frankly, had enough time as a band to pick up a fan base the other side of the Atlantic. The weird thing about this review, and this band, is that they’re not an underground band in the way that I would typically mean. Nor are they new by anyone’s standards. They’ve been around since 2007, they don’t have a particularly difficult or extreme sound, they come from a relatively major UK city...yet they’ve never really made waves even on the UK scene. And you’d probably remember the name Dinosaur Pile-Up if you heard it, right?

But that’s all background and window-dressing really. What we’re here to talk about is the record. It’s the band’s fourth full-length, following up from 2015’s Eleven Eleven, meaning they’ve spent a little time on this one. Does it sound like it? Well yeah, I’d say so. But not in a tinkering, obsessively detailed kind of way. Just in the way that every song feels like a single. I’m conscious that particular accolade gets thrown around a lot, but I’m not just saying that, they honestly do. Huge choruses, thick-textured guitars and some quirky sloganeering in the lyrics, too.

More impressive still, all the songs manage to sound very distinct from one another. The title track, for example, is straight out of the Weezer playbook, with louche melodies, slacker, distorted guitars and summery backing vocals. “Black Limousine” is possibly a little close for comfort to Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today” in chord progression at times, but when it gets going, is a rollocking, sarcastic anthem nonetheless. My personal favourite and album opener “Thrash Metal Cassette” showcases the harder, scuzzy, riff-driven side of the band which at points is almost impossible to separate from the first 2 Foo Fighters records - also true of “Pouring Gasoline”. To be honest, I’d struggle at this point to say which of these styles I prefer, because they do them all so well. Maybe I’m slightly less keen on Matt Bigland’s occasional semi-rapped delivery (see “Back Foot” for the most audacious examples of this), but even then, it’s so clear that he’s delivering the vocal with his tongue simultaneously lodged firmly in his cheek, that is seems unreasonable to criticise it somehow.

As an experiment, I recommend you listen to the record and write down bands that you’re reminded of as you listen to it and see what you come up with. It’s mad. Just some of mine (in addition to those I’ve already mentioned) include Sum 41, The Bangles, Nine Black Alps, Yuck, Biffy Clyro, Ash, The Vines, The Offspring, Feeder, Silverchair...the list goes on. It’s a weird amalgam of bunches of stuff, but ultimately if you like 90’s post-grunge in a Weezer/Foo Fighters style, then you won’t be disappointed. It’s heaps of fun, occasionally genuinely funny and the songs do exactly what they’re supposed to. They might not be the most complex or layered songs, but if you’re after big uncomplicated rock tunes with pop sensibilities, then you’re going to be entirely satisfied.

An interesting side note considering the history of the band, where they are in their career, etc. is that this record is being released on Parlophone. I’m not going to speculate as to whether that’s had any role in the band creating their best material to date, but it’s a weird bit of context if nothing else. Not often does moving to a major label coincide with such a marked improvement in a band’s output, but that’s what’s happened here. Whatever the driving force behind this renaissance has been, I’m pretty impressed and I know a lot of other people will be too.