Rating: 8 / Format: CD / Best Before
There’s an interview on the last page of the Guardian’s Guide magazine, you might have seen it, where each question is the title of a song or album. ‘Is this it?’, ‘Are Friends Electric?’ and so on. See? It’s clever. Anyway, a few weeks back, they asked ‘Do you like Rock music?’. In my idle Saturday morning moments, I like to imagine what I would answer to the questions, if I was rich and famous enough, or had recently starred in enough cult ‘bromance’ movies, to be asked.
So, I was pondering this question: do I like rock music? The initial, somewhat petulant reaction was: NO! I mean, of course, I like many bands who play guitars and so who could be classed as ‘rock’ bands. But – if this makes sense – the idea of rock, as opposed to finer distinctions such as rock and roll or hardcore, really doesn’t appeal. It’s associated, in my mind at least, with sweat, and drinks thrown in the air, guitar-worship, and hairy screeching…the opposite of disco, in short.
But then – to get to the point, finally – a band like Dananananaykroyd comes along, who sound so in love with the idea of rock music. And it’s all such incredible fun. The starting point seems to be latter-day Dischord-ish tumbling (think Bluetip, or may be a less overtly funky Q and Not U; riffs and songs that seem to be scrambling up a steep incline, then bouncing down, then scrambling back up, over and over). But there’s none of the buttoned down seriousness of the Dischord lot here; rather, an endearingly silly love of devil-hands-in-the-air rock exuberance. Tracks dart around at a bewildering pace, blown about by almost constant Keith Moon drum rolls. Yelps and screams are flung around between Danananetc’s two vocalists, as the songs build to every thicker, faster, louder, jerkier climaxes. Then there’s a bits where the band indulge in some forthright low-end chunkiness that’s kind of magnificently artless for being a little hackneyed – hyperactive punk kids crashing a Kyuss desert keg-party.
This joy, this sheer excitement at making music, is a big reason why Dananananaykroyd might well be the best live band in the country right now. Their gigs are more like sugar-high children’s parties than anything else, with ‘walls of cuddles’ replacing the infamous ‘walls of death’, but their happiness and willingness to entertain seems so total and genuine that to worry about twee-ness seems churlish. Unusually, they’ve also managed to get to the same buzzing intensity on their album. This makes the record a perfect early morning jolt of energy, but perhaps not something you’d want to take over your life. Another slight niggle is that the some of the things that make the band so great live – a kind of frothiness, an unwillingness to take themselves at all seriously – mean that the record isn’t quite as affecting as it might be. Sometimes, I just want them to settle down, lose the wry hyperactivity, and not be afraid of really meaning it. Still, perhaps this is all churlish. This band are really, really fun, and that’s enough, right?