Is there such a thing as a 2000s-era rock band? There havebeen some great, popular rock bands over the past decade – TheStrokes, The White Stripes and The Hold Steady to name but three. Yet they play continuations or revivals of music – embracingold influences in a new way. There was never a modern sound in termsof an all-encompassing style or an MTV-changing demeanor.
Asalternative rock has become increasingly defined by mumbling, gravel-voiced singers and rumbling power-chord choruses, the meat andpotatoes, rock-playing populace has submerged themselves in therecords of timeless acts like Bruce Springsteen and TheVelvet Underground, the better to combat the growingthreat of Creed and Nickelback.
The other option is to just sound like Nirvana. Dinosaur Pile-Up take this route. Their power trio offull-throttle guitar, pounding stadium drums and a heartbeat bass isprobably what should be called ‘post-grunge’ – before that tag becameludicrously ill-defined. Their record Growing Pains marches to onebeat, subscribes to one formula and sounds immediately dated.
Dinosaur Pile-Up are the band your parents might like to think of as trendy. Their overly familiar rock’n’roll centres on buzzsaw guitar sounds that absolutely dominate the mix. As such it’s an album morefor air-guitaring than singing along to. Naturally that leads to sometroubling ideas; considering that the music here is intended to invitethe listener into a grimy world of pub-rock, devil-may-careexuberance, there’s very little that’s memorable and the rocks-off hooksare rather bland. All but one of the songs has a simple shout-alongchorus surrounded by some mid-level fretwork – it’s a songwritingtrick that’s worked before, but on Growing Pains almost always falls flat.
There’s nothing all that exciting or even toe-tapping here, and itseems the sole reason this record is mixed so loud is because themusic can’t carry itself on its own. Dinosaur Pile-Up rely on volumeinduced euphoria; the idea that if songs sound loud enough they’llbecome meaningful, triggering some deep-seated elation in thelistener’s brain – and that really shouldn’t be the core of analbum.
But it can, and will, work on some people. Growing Pains is musicfor 14-year-old proto-AC/DC fans and the Def Leppardloving uncles amongst the population. It is music for people whose lastpurchase was The Darkness‘ Permission To Land and it’sdefinitely music for people who exclusively listen to rock ‘n’ roll.In short it’s music for people who don’t really care that much about music, andthat’s necessarily heinous.