ARTIST: DANCE GAVIN DANCE

TITLE: AFTERBURNER

LABEL: RISE RECORDS

RATING: 9/10 

WORDS: MICHAEL WOODWORTH

While taking their art to the next level with new and bold directions, even Dance Gavin Dance can’t stop their iconic sound sneaking in. The 9th full-length effort from the Sacramento, CA veterans, ‘Afterburner’ consistently shows the band is able to capture the past, present and future, all at the same time.

The record opens with ‘Prisoner’, the first single. It starts off with the classic Dance Gavin Dance plucking while quickly transitioning to calming melodies sprinkled with screaming to take the edge off. Songs like ‘Lyrics Lie’ and ‘Strawberry’s Wake’ follow suit in sound and remind us where they came from.

‘Three Wishes’ and ‘One in a Million’ are able to harness the energy of the listener and really show the depth the band has. Both choruses are alluring with the structure, melody, and harmonies. ‘One in a Million’ features low synth distortion that makes it feel like you are listening while underwater and pulls off what could easily be seen as the end of a show-stopping Broadway number. The synth comes back higher during ‘Parody Catharsis’ that somehow captures Fall Out Boy at the same time.

“THIS ALBUM IS A SHOWCASE OF BOTH THE SOUND WE ALL FELL IN LOVE WITH AND A NEW, EXPANSIVE ONE” 

The best part of the album is the different sounds they were able to encapsulate throughout. ‘Calentamiento Global’ is hard hitting with spanish undertones supporting impressive Spanish vocals without missing the D.G.D. style while ‘Parallels’ transports you to a seemingly Sci-Fi world by using what sounds like 8-bit lasers. They are even able to bring the 80s back in ‘Night Sway’ by using powerful guitar chords blending into intricate plucking.

The band was also able to throw in some heavier songs like ‘Born to Fail’ and ‘Say Hi’. ‘Born to Fail’ focuses on note echoes fit for bouncing around a vast cavern mixed with ambient strumming. ‘Say Hi’ follows the same idea but also features a strong mix of heavy and melodic vocals. The album comes to an end with ‘Nothing Shameful (feat. Andrew Wells)’ and ‘Into the Sunset (feat. Bilmuri). ‘Nothing Shameful’ has flowing duel guitars to add to a good ending blend of clean and harsh vocals. The last song, ‘Into the Sunset’ is set for a 60s prom dance floor, taking a step back from the free flow of the album and allowing the listener to slowly wind down after a whirlwind of a journey.

This album is a showcase of both the sound we all fell in love with and a new, expansive sound to set the tone of their trajectory. The band have proven they are able to stay relevant with both old and new fans, while also gaining the attention of new ones. It’s 2020, yet Dance Gavin Dance have been able to release something with the capacity to become a timeless classic.

‘Afterburner’ is out now through Rise Records.

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