Oct 17 2013
The Dismemberment Plan were perhaps the biggest stars of the indie genre back then who created some of the most weird and beautiful music, and after a hiatus of a decade, the band has come up with a new record — Uncanney Valley.
Originally formed in 1993, the Travis Morrison-led unit (rounded out by Jason Caddell on guitars, bassist Eric Axelson, and drummer Joe Easley) was active for 10 years before they broke up in 2003. Since the separation, each of the band members pursued different paths: Morrisson worked for the Huffington Post and Washington Post, and is now the president of his own start-up company; Caddell made a living as a freelance audio engineer for corporate and political events, in addition to playing on and producing records; Axelson has been teaching in public schools; and Easley earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering and is now employed at Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre. However, why did a group of such smart, capable musicians decide to misspell ‘uncanny’ in their album title remains a mystery.
The D-Plan got back together briefly in 2007 for a couple of benefit shows, and then staged a full-on reunion tour in 2011, which coincided with the reissue of their 1999 classic, Emergency & I. Since then, the indie rock champs have performed several new songs live and hinted that an album of fresh material would be on the way, which culminated into Uncanney Valley.
The record is full of songs that could rival most D-Plan classics, but Daddy was a real good dancer is definitely the best track of the album. It contains all the singular elements of The Dismemberment Plan’s peculiar sound, with a funk-geek’s beat, geek vocals and a chorus that will knock your head all day long.
The evident lack of pressure is one of the things that make Uncanny Valley a great album. The Dismemberment Plan’s return didn’t come with the baggage that most of their alt-rock peers had to deal with upon their returns. One can almost hear how relaxed and at peace the band sounds right from the breathy opener, No one’s saying nothing to the incessantly pleasing closer Let’s just go to the dogs.
All the classic D-Plan factors are still quite prominent. Idiosyncratic bipolar tracks like White Collar White Trash and Mexico City Christmas ride Joe Easley’s restless, polyrythmic drumkit as if not a day has passed since their last record.
Getting people moving has always been a core tenet of The Dismemberment Plan’s music. Early in their career, they tapped into the visceral response of energised, dissonant stuff like One too many blows to the head or Girl O’Clock. On Uncanney Valley, they sound in many places like a more patient version of themselves, mixed with grooves stolen from disco and funk records from the ’70s.
The band is so good together and at ease knocking these songs out, that it makes it hard to find flaws with the record. It’s just too well crafted and joyful. It’s not the stone cold classic that Emergency & I was, but the band knows that it doesn’t have to be. The Dismemberment Plan no longer has to prove anything. They proved themselves a long time back.