If there is one thing Jurassic Park taught us, it’s that sitting on the crapper while a T-Rex is running about loose is a categorically terrible idea. But it also taught us that doofering around with genetics is a tricky business. While Richard Attenborough might think slinging a few velociraptors about is a fine old idea, someone’s going to have to clear up the piles of chewed up human.
Mad old Dick would probably be well up for crossing a dinosaur with a walrus. This would result in a similarly terrible mess. Luckily for us all, Dinowalrus aren’t the product of a billionaire with too much time on his hands but a Brooklyn psych rock band who twisted our desperate little minds with their debut % back in 2010 and have now got round to messing with matters neural again.
Best Behaviour is a more accomplished piece of work than its predecessor – which nonetheless dripped with charm – and finds the Dinowalrus prodding its tusks along banks of synths with admirable aplomb. This is a dreamy, sometimes queasy synth pop record with a good amount of bite beneath the wash of keyboard calm. Sometimes you want to hug the Dinowalrus, sometimes you fear it will gore you.
Opener The Gift Shop sounds like ’80s British indie pop put through the Squelchinator 3000, all oscillating synths and sweet vocals floating through the wall from next door where some fey boys are bemoaning their bad luck with bad girls. The single, Phone Home From The Edge, boasts radio love and throws the vocals into a deep, dark dustbin with intricate guitar and synths shoving the beautiful 4:49 onwards.
There’s a track called Beth Steel. Who is Beth Steel? IMDB says she was an actress in Van Wilder 2: The Rise Of Taj. The song could also refer to Bethlehem Steel, once one of America’s most prominent steel makers and ship builders. With the vocals again cresting in the background, it’s impenetrable and beautiful at the same time. Rico picks the pace up with a song that could have slipped onto a Hacienda playlist – the real Hacienda, not whatever corpse Peter Hook is currently hawking around. Twenty-Seven Club is a dreamy little nugget of crying guitar and distracted synth that brings the tempo down again before What Now? offers up a post-punk leg-twitcher with Radical Man and Burners strengthening the feeling of being in an odd late-’80s time bubble.
Riding Eazy, which closes the record, feels like Americans trying to channel The Happy Mondays and doing a rather fine job. “Do we have a reason to exist?” they sing. You do, Dinowalrus. You’re a disturbing chimera of a beast but by god, we could kiss you on your beautifully grotesque mouth.