[14 July 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
If there’s anything that Birmingham, Alabama, group Dirty Lungs do – and do remarkably well on their debut album – it’s to contrast their harsher, garage rock sounds with something softer. Sometimes within the same song. A prime example is the second track “All My Cats”. It starts out as a gently strummed alt-country tune, before transmuting into some vital and raging. But there’s a pattern to this release, and it often goes like this: harsh song, soft song, harsh, soft, harsh. Consider this band to be the natural extension of the Pixies, if only the Pixies didn’t offer the soft-loud-soft dynamic within each and every one of their songs, but, rather, each individual song that followed one another. That’s what makes Dirty Lungs such a treat and a joy to listen to. Just when you think the band might be getting too abrasive, something kinder is lurking around the corner.
Musically, Dirty Lungs don’t stray too far from the path already cleared by the likes of Thee Oh Sees, but that’s not a bad thing. Dirty Lungs don’t quite get as psychedelic and out there as Thee Oh Sees, although there are some touches of that kind of thing, and the band retains a self-deprecating sense of humour (see “I Suck in Bed”). Vocalist Carson Mitchell has an inviting voice, and is more than able to deftly handle the hard stuff as well as the soft stuff. As well, I detect a little bit of an Urge Overkill influence, just without the debonair posing of said band. All in all, Dirty Lungs is a quirky collection of gems, and 31 minutes of varying, powerful moods. Sit back, relax, and let the dirty and soothing sounds of this band wash over you.