‘Acceptance Speech’, the title of Dance Gavin Dance‘s fifth studio album, is a fitting title for the Sacramento experimental post-hardcore troupe, and one that could bear a few meanings. Originally, the sextet were going to part ways following the release and tour cycle of 2011’s ‘Downtown Battle Mountain II’, an album which saw the return of the band’s line-up from their debut full-length effort, ‘Downtown Battle Mountain’. It was during this time that the band had refound their love of being in a band and decided to continue forwards.
The title also resonates with the most significant line-up change since then, the departure of clean vocalist Jonny Craig and the introduction of former Tides Of Man frontman, Tilian Pearson. Now their third clean vocalist throughout their career, the news of Pearson grabbing the microphone full-time for the outfit met much speculation and was expected to polarise opinions as much as when Kurt Travis joined the band after Craig first left the fold back in 2007. So, now with Pearson at the helm, the main question at hand is: will he be accepted?
Opening with ‘Jesus H. Macy’, a track already known by many fans being unveiled on a few of the band’s tours on the lead up to the release, immediately we are greeted with a Dance Gavin Dance which is different to what we’ve known before whilst at the same time maintains a cohesive style and sound.
We also see a closing of the band’s ongoing ‘The Robot With Human Hair’ series, seeing both ‘…Part. 4’ and ‘The Death Of…’ throughout the record, both of which also manage to display some of Pearson‘s best work with this new venture. Imagine a Claudio Sanchez (of Coheed & Cambria) in a post-hardcore band and you’ll see the resemblance in his vocal stylings, his Tides Of Man input sitting comfortable on the bed of Matt Mingus‘ pummelling drumming and Will Swan‘s consistent blistering fret-work.
The crowning moment throughout ‘Acceptance Speech’, however, is the back-to-back delights of ‘Carve’ and ‘Doom & Gloom’. What these two tracks bring to the forefront, which in part is what makes them such album highlights, is the great tag team and complimenting pairing of Pearson and screamer Jon Mess. The hooks are sharp, the gutair work is crisp, the rhythm sections keep the head nodding and, much like in ‘DBM2’, we’re really seeing Jon Mess becoming one of the best aspects of DGD.
As a whole, ‘Acceptance Speech’ can proudly stand toe-to-toe with any previous releases held in Dance Gavin Dance‘s arsenal. Those feeling a little aprehensive about the addition of Tilian Pearson into the mix have understandable doubts, in comparison with Kurt Travis, Pearson has a much more distinctive and different style to fill Jonny Craig‘s shoes. However, what we have here is a refreshing DGD who’ve managed to maintain their identity regardless, and maybe we’ll also have a consistent line-up for the foreseeable future.
Written by Zach Redrup
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.