REVIEW: Dance Gavin Dance – ‘Instant Gratification’

Artist: Dance Gavin Dance
Album: Instant Gratification
Genre: Rock, Pop, Experimental

I typically hate reviews and editorials that begin with quotes, but when attempting to begin discussing the latest release from Dance Gavin Dance there was one quote that stuck in my mind like the hook of “Stroke God, Millionaire” will soon stick with all of you: “Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos.”

Stephen Sondheim will probably never be found sitting at the back of your local Dance Gavin Dance concert, but I cannot help thinking the legendary composer and lyricist would, at the very least, have a strong admiration for the band’s catalog. His quote above is the perfect description of everything Dance Gavin Dance have attempted to do since their formation in 2005. The members may have changed (more than a few times), but at the end of the day everyone involved with this project has worked harder than any other band in alternative music today to bring order to chaos. Instant Gratification is the latest attempt to do just that, and it comes damn close to being the masterwork fans have long known the band were capable of bringing to life.

Make no mistake. Instant Gratification is in no way a great departure from the sound and experimental, yet surprisingly cohesive flow of 2013’s Acceptance Speech. In fact, the album plays more like a continuation of that record, with equal sonic diversity and even better cohesion. You never know what will happen from track to track, but once you find yourself knee-deep in songs such as “Shark Dad” or “The Cuddler” you realize this eclectic and often intense menagerie of rock is in fact and orchestrated testament to the power of finding a sense of peace within a world of chaos. Dance Gavin Dance have made their home in a world where anything can happen, and on this record, more than any release prior, you get the sense they’re finally feeling comfortable in their own skin.

The inherent problem with creating a record that serves more as a continuation of your life’s work than a standalone piece of entertainment is the ever-present likelihood of reaching a plateau, or some similar situation where your new material doesn’t really sound all that new. Instant Gratification is full of incredible guitar work and dizzying melodies whose replay value is insanely high, but it would be easy to understand if those not already committed to the church of DGD found themselves thinking certain moments sounded more than a little like elements of previous records that have yet to fully evolve. It’s not that the record is ever bad, or even not good, but for a band driven by the desire to always push the envelope there are moments that feel a little too safe.

On the other hand, Instant Gratification also features some of the best variations of ideas that were first introduced on earlier records. The best example of this can be found in “Eagles Vs. Crows,” which boasts a strong hip-hop influence that makes it feel destined to be a future staple of the band’s live show. Likewise, “Something New” perfectly melds pop sensibilities with the band’s signature sing/scream sound to create an infectious, yet pit-ready potential single that is hard to deny.

I don’t believe Dance Gavin Dance have perfected the formula to finding order in chaos, but Instant Gratification places them one step closer to achieving that goal. It maintains the band’s well-documented love affair with cross-genre experimentation while boasting some of the most fun and infectious material they have ever shared. There is very little chance this record will sell someone on DGD if they were not already on board, but those who get what the band is trying to do will find there is more than enough quality material here to keep your fandom fueled for another calendar year.

SCORE: 8.5/10
Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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