Dirty Tactics - It Is What It Is (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dirty Tactics

It Is What It Is (2010)


Simply put, Dirty Tactics are the best band you're not listening to. It Is What It Is is an ambitious, interesting and altogether excellent twist on what's largely become an oversaturated, depleted scene full of copycats ready to grow unsightly facial hair, wear flannel and sing songs that reference whiskey. It's a sorely needed break from the tired routine. It's a record that deserves far more acclaim than it will ever receive, if for no other reason than its sheer, unapologetic weirdness.

It's not weird for the sake of being weird, however; at their core, Dirty Tactics are a quirky power-pop outfit that play offbeat, sarcastic, mostly short songs that despite any implications here, are relatively easy on the ears. This distinction doesn't take into account unplaceable movie clips ("When You Wake Up"), Latin-infused interludes ("Side of the Road," "Secret Lives") or even pissed-off piano ballads ("Arkansas"), but it does include the lo-fi catchiness of "The Process" and "Highway Robbery," both of which showcase the band's ability to write some serious hooks without reeling in the originality. "Baltimore" and "Train Song" continue this trend while including the ambiance that could only be created by an organ (yes, an organ), because why the hell not?

Dirty Tactics hardly wastes any time on It Is What It Is, and its brevity definitely works to its advantage when it comes to the obvious traits (immediacy, replay value, etc.). Even when the band does spread things out a little bit, such as in the title track, it's done well, and usually in the form of extended instrumental breaks that display the band's chops, not to mention just simply rock. The versatility displayed on It Is What It Is is always impressive and at times even wowing, reminding all of us that we're better off as music fans when we stray from the beardcore hegemony every once in a while.