22 December 2008

Die! Die! Die!

Promises, Promises
Etch N Sketch, 2008

In 2005 Dunedin punk band Die! Die! Die! opened their debut album with a spiteful clang of noise and a blistering song called 'Disappear Here', which featured the chorus: "I love you/ I love you/ I love you/ 'Til I find somebody better!" The whole thing was shrill, churlish and noisy. Three years later and their tune has changed, in more ways than one. "I could never forget her if I tried," Andrew Wilson cries in the opening seconds of Promises, Promises, their brilliant second album. The difference between those introductions is no coincidence. Promises, Promises is a record about love, or more accurately, the losing of it. Soaked in heartbreak, it is darker and more melodic than anything the band have made before – but just as ferocious. The notes jut and stab and splinter, leaving a melancholy aftertaste in their wake.

There is some confusion when it comes to critics choosing the "best" albums of the year. Are records that break some sort of new ground, or play with a new idea, more important than the rest? Promises, Promises does nothing of the sort. It's a break-up album with a song called 'Death To The Last Romantic', for fuck's sake. You'd actually struggle to find anything more straightforward and overworn. But this album has something most of the others don't – a soul. Promises, Promises is, just like the event it's based on, a turbulent and passionate and vicious and beautiful mess. My favourite moment is when Wilson just screams the letters of the word "attitude" over and over again while the band warm up their instruments in preparation for the unavoidable lashing-out that comes next. He doesn't spell it right, either.

Released in New Zealand in the final months of last year, Promises, Promises has slowly been making its way to the rest of the world during 2008 (and I suppose here I should address the fact that yes, they are Kiwis, though I count that as "local", and technically it was first released last year, though very few people got to hear it until this year – however if you really truly care about any of this you're probably too close to the comic book guy from The Simpsons for anyone to take you seriously). I have no idea if it's the "best" album of the year – all I know is that it's my favourite.

This is the final column in a three-week series on the best local releases of the year.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew - not responding to the album review - which was cool, so I am responding I guess - but I wanted to thank you for the Louise Dickinson piece in Mess+Noise. As a bit player in the 90s tail end of zine culture (Spleen) I was shocked by Louise's death and like you it seemed a turning point to me. Great that someone has recognised and reminded us all of the things she stood for and achieved - a great thing to do. Thanks again.