[7 November 2007]
Shout, De Novo Dahl’s debut EP for Roadrunner, finds the Nashville band in a deconstructive mood. The artfully quirky psych/electro/pop group is big on rainbows and other such imagery, dressing up in costumes and generally emphasizing whimsy and fantasy. Their music is suitably ecstatic—building this kind of upbeat communal sound through a ragged chorus of vocals, lots of synths, and lots of peppy dance-inspired percussion. Out of the six tracks, five feel like reworkings of the same, or very similar, ideas. Melodic tropes recur, with different (or slightly different) textures. The phrase “you sexy thing”, for example, or “Just dance / Come on, people”, recurs a number of times. It’s effective in communicating the message the band’s trying to convey, sure. And over the course of an EP it is a nice gesture of the faith of the band in the depth and substance of their material—that it can fuel a number of different permutations, different songs. On a full-length, this might become tedious. The band’s well-documented influences (the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) are easy enough to find in De Novo Dahl’s sound. But there’s also a strong vein of classic, heavy rock; “Dance Like David” momentarily recalls the Darkness. Song titles like “Crap Your Pants Say Shout” show a group with a sense of humor, but more than this it’s gratifying to hear a group this serious about getting off the hinge. There’s not much choice but to strap in and do what the band says.