Dead Poet Society are a Los Angeles based rock quartet formed while all four members were attending college in Boston and features Jack Underkofler (singer/guitar), Jack Collins (guitar), Dylan Brenner (bass) and Will Goodroad (drums). Their music spans heavy, riff-driven songs to balladry and are also known for their use of fretless instruments, which gives their songs a particularly original flavour. They release their debut album `-!-` this month.
The first couple of cuts on the album seem totally unnecessary in my opinion. The first `-!-` is a brief sort of sweary discussion with possibly the producer or a mentor seemingly about some pitfall the band should avoid and `futureofwar` is just under a couple of minutes in length and is a mix of splayed guitar riffs, drumming and some vocal sounds floated above. Why bother? it`s neither ground-breaking nor revolutionary.
Finally, `burymewhole` arrives and thankfully it`s well worth the wait. A wonderful dark edgy brooding affair that relates to a really unhealthy relationship that takes place on social media at times. The lyrics of “No I don`t think u realize, just what you do to me, I can`t help but over analyze, as u crush me and bury me”. There`s a delightful fragile vulnerability to the vocal delivery and musically it’s a stunning cacophony of noise. There`s a slow build up with the stop start `getawayfortheweeked` that tells of a possible illicit romantic hook up that the narrator even seems uncomfortable about but just needs to get away. A slow grinding build up that then races along before taking a sort of time out and heading off again possibly shadowing the state of mind of the storyteller. Cracking stuff.
On `American Blood` there is such a variability in the vocal delivery that so expresses the helplessness that the subject is conceivably undergoing in this possible tale of mental health struggles. At times you can almost feel the pain as the vocals sway up and down carried along by the matching musical accompaniment which is unleashed at the perfect pitch. A tale of a struggling musician is shared with `intoodeep` a number that enjoys the triple powerhouse of drum, bass and guitar riffs with a chorus equating the situation to be akin to being an addict.
I was reminded of some of the art rock anthems that Muse have fashioned with `georgia` an really intricate offering that is so eclectic. It had some Led Zep like riffs and vocals that could raise the roof off at times along this quite space rock journey. Stunning. `-JU-` is another band interview snippet that gives us a brief breathing space between songs.
We have a stadium ballad with `I Never Loved Myself Like I Loved You` that has all the elements you`d expect such a number to have. The only thing lacking is the soft glow of phone displays and zippo style lighters being held aloft. We have a more automated texture to `SALT` with vocals that are shared in a sort of robotic spoken word fashion against a thumping distorted bass line, pounding drums and a guitar riff that at times sounds like fingers scraping down a blackboard.
`CoDA` seems to be a breakup song conveyed with all the swagger and arrogance of Rival Sons` `Pressure and Time` before they grew less hungry. Again, we enjoy pounding drums, thumping bass and massive guitar riffs and such subtle vocals, really what more could you want. Another romantic separation piece follows with `loveyoulikethat` a story of ending a long-term relationship now rather than later when it`ll hurt so much more. The blistering guitar licks almost reflect the angst and pain that belies the situation.
`-gopi-` is another unnecessary aural snippet that has a woman giving a scathing evaluation of the band, really what`s the point? We return on `lovemelikeyoudo` to a more mechanised sound with whispered vocals shared atop a not quite programmed musical accompaniment but heading toward.
`beenherebefore` is a more upbeat, lighter, almost dreamy number that has some repetitive drumming at times and hinted at the sort of rock arias that made Alter Bridge so popular. The album closes out with `haunted` not quite an acoustic number but as near as damn it with guitar and some elegant flowing vocal.
Dead Poet Society have been together for some time now and `-!-` is an accomplished debut album by any standards. The musicianship is second to none and they have a real asset with a singer like Jack Underkofler who has such a rich and wide-ranging vocal range. I really enjoyed this album but felt the aural snippets didn`t seem to add anything and would question as to why they were included. The use of exclamations is another strange one but less irritating. Nevertheless, there is a superb bluster and impertinence about the band and their songs which I found was a measure of their calibre and ability.
Rating 8.5 /10