Dilute – The Gypsy Valentine Curve

3 out of 5

Dilute is awesome!  Dilute is frustrating.  For every explosive, heart-wrenching moment on Gypsy, there’s an equal amount of wandering noodling.  What makes this especially audibly perplexing is how the group re-uses tunes and themes throughout the album, making those wandering passages reflections of more structured parts – so you’re expecting a riff or bridge to drop, which never does – including ‘Intro’ being like a vocal-less disassembled version of the actual intro track Bea.

Yes, this follows Grape Blueprints’ similar stylistic divide, although the split is a bit clearer here: with Intro the album sort of does re-start in an improvisational mode (hey – there’s a track named Improsivisations); it’s just a strange sequencing choice to wrap things up that way, ending on 20+ minutes of fairly subdued guitar squiggles and muttering and drum patter.

The counterpoint is that the album’s first 2/3rds is a knockout.  While the group has a knack for building up to fury and then sort of petering, that fury is delightfully furious, and a great juxtaposition to Marty Anderson’s fragile vocals and the almost poppy guitar riffs.  A catchy hook will twist on a moment’s notice into Pixies energy, into rattling discordance, into a controlled panic.  The tracks freely flow into one another, just as Anderson’s lyrics drift from harmless musings (I’m pretty sure there’s something about eating pie…) to sinister declarations (“Breathing is evil, don’t try”).

The album is imperfect.  It’s structured like a work in progress, with songs sounding similar until they break out into uniquely catchy choruses – doomed to stick in your head – or insanely anarchic freak-outs, only to end in an extended question mark of non-song.  Through that morass, though, you hear a band quite apart from their (then) contemporaries, not exactly any one “thing” enough to qualify for a tag more specific than indie rock.  They make an impression.  At times a frustrating one, but the good you get with that is certainly worth it.

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