Album Review: Dinosaur Pile-Up – “Celebrity Mansions”
It’s an odd society we live in. Half of us don’t pay for the music we listen to, yet we’re up-in-arms when music shops shut. We follow everyone and everything online desperately trying to copy someone else’s look in order to celebrate our own individuality, and we queue overnight in herds when limited edition versions of records we already own are released for twice the price on a single day of the year.
It’s also a strange world where bands such as Dinosaur Pile-Up haven’t quite broken into the mainstream despite releasing three consistently appealing records over the past decade. This is where album number four, Celebrity Mansions comes in; newly signed to Parlophone, the Leeds three-piece have taken the opportunity to put out a record that recounts time spent trying to grow an organic following in a society where paid social media ‘influencers’ have somehow ended up with the biggest clout.
Taking in this bizarro-land in which we live, recent single Thrash Metal Cassette is a scuzzy ode to life on the road, accompanied by some suitably heavy efforts in the riff department. It’s the kind of song that although massively influenced by any one of a number of mid-90s acts, still makes you sit up and take notice, with its closing cheerleader clap-along segment sure to be a live hit. The rapped verses of Back Foot meanwhile blend seamlessly into the big, chunky chorus and it’s memorable moments like this that will have paid dividends for the band on recent support slots for Muse and will no doubt do the same on an upcoming US tour with Shinedown.
The band’s tongue-in-cheek Americana-inspired lyricism may irk some who find it too clichéd (it is a bit ‘gasoline’/’High School prom’/’7-Eleven’ at times), but listened to with an open mind, Celebrity Mansions becomes a hugely likeable slab of alternative rock. The fantastically-titled Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk is every bit as silly as you’d expect, but this only adds to the charm as vocalist/guitarist Matt Bigland rattles through an MTV-glory-years punk love story. Continuing the mid-90s theme, there are some Cobain vocal cues in Pouring Gasoline which make things a bit more grungy, yet the song pulls Mike Sheils’ drums and Jim Cratchley’s bass together in a style akin to Puppy’s awesome debut record earlier this year, giving things a nice modern groove.
Dinosaur Pile-Up certainly wear their influences on their sleeves and Black Limousine has a dreamy, Smashing Pumpkins feel to it, while the album’s title track and K West are all about the Weezer sun-drenched easy going rock as they fantasise about becoming the ‘celebrities’ that are now so prevalent on our screens and in our ears. The record may seem self-pitying and sombre at times, especially on Professional Freak (“everyone says I’m right where I ought to be”) and Long Way Down (“I remember when you parted, we were all so broken-hearted over you”) but in reality, this is a hugely uplifting record, and it forces you to root for the band in all they say and do.
An album that will make you grin from ear to ear, Celebrity Mansions may seem a simple pop-punk outing but it actually becomes an important satire of what “popular” really means. Part mid-90s homage and part, randomly, Dwayne Johnson love-in, the record is an endearing showcase of what Dinosaur Pile-Up are all about, and it could well turn out to be the record that swings them into the big leagues.
Celebrity Mansions is a celebratory record, praising all of our inner geek sensibilities whilst proving we can all make it if we put our minds to it. Chock full of instant classics and now with major label backing, this record really should be the one that makes it big for Dinosaur Pile-Up.