If you know anything about Dance Gavin Dance, you know they’ve had their share of lineup changes over the years. Mothership is DGD’s third studio record (fourth, if you count Tree City Sessions) with the current vocal duo of Tilian Pearson (formerly Tides of Man) and Jon Mess, and demonstrates the fine-tuning of a dynamic sound that’s been developing since Pearson joined in 2012.
Keeping elements of the old DGD, circa Downtown Battle Mountain and Happiness, guitarist Will Swan shreds his way through Mothership, while the sharp contrast of Pearson’s smooth vocals and Mess’s frantic screams bring the listener deep into the heart of the frenzy that is Mothership.
Personally, I wasn’t sure DGD would be able to top Instant Gratification. I knew the Pearson-Mess combo was/is (in my opinion) the pinnacle of chaotic – yet melodic – perfection, but I had no idea how they would one-up an almost perfect album from 2015. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you they killed it, from start to finish.
From “Chucky Vs. The Giant Tortoise”, the first single released off Mothership, to “Man of the Year”, this album is a relentless shred fest – guitar, lyrics, vocals – start to finish. We see elements of disco-esque dance anthems woven throughout, like in the chorus for “Young Robot”, mixed amongst angsty, belted vocals from Pearson in songs like “Inspire the Liars”. The lyrics on Mothership seem to delve into the vulnerability of Pearson – but not without the witty quips of Mess alongside: “I know what I’m talkin bout / I believe the words in my mouth/ ‘Cause I can say that it was all just a metaphor” (from “Betrayed By The Game”). The album ends with “Chocolate Jackalope” and “Man of the Year”, easily two of my favorite DGD songs to-date.
“Chocolate Jackalope” is a fun jam, with a mix of funky and melodic guitar, topped with semi-serious, mostly-silly lyrics from Mess, Pearson, AND Swan (much like “Eagle vs. Crows” from 2015’s Instant Gratification). “Man of the Year” steals the show, closing the album with more raw emotion and unveiled honesty than we’ve ever seen from a DGD release. With lyrics like “Don’t you hurt me again / Pride, feed me pride, I’m fiending / My mind and my body won’t be able to take the pain / I’d rather you were dead / Than lying cheating draining my patience away” and “Filled with regret, alone in the end / Barely a man, I ran from every decision / Not about to justify, don’t sympathize with my meltdown / Not about to justify, don’t sympathize with my meltdown / I don’t need a friend I’d rather keep it all to myself now / ‘Cause it’s hard enough to follow up the fees of my self-doubt”, “Man of the Year” is a scorching and visceral ending to a phenomenal album.
Even if you’ve never listened to Dance Gavin Dance, or if you have and didn’t enjoy it, give this album a chance – it’s unlike anything you’ve ever heard (lyrically and sound-wise), and I assure you that it will not be time wasted. There is something here for everyone. And, if you’re a long time DGD fan, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of lyrical nods to previous albums – the robot with human hair lives on!
Mothership Track Listing:
01. Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise
02. Young Robot
03. Frozen One
04. Flossie Dickey Bounce
06. Inspire the Liars
07. Philosopher King
08. Here Comes the Winner
10. Betrayed by the Game
11. Petting Zoo Justice
12. Chocolate Jackalope
13. Man of the Year
Run Time: 49:43
Release Date: October 7, 2016
Check out the track “Young Robot”