There’s nothing more disappointing than when a band with a genuinely great name turns out to be a little bit rubbish. Fortunately, there are no such concerns with Norwich’s Darwin and the Dinosaur. Not only do they have a great name, their musical chops surpass expectations.
Muscular yet intelligent alt-rock is the order of the day, and throughout ‘A Thousand Ships’ the song writing and delivery is as sharp as the tooth of a tyrannosaurus.
Technical and powerful, there’s still huge swathes of melody and enormous hooks fighting for attention alongside the big-hitting drums and monstrous riffs. Obviously, the band are aware of this – why else would you call a song ‘Riff Town Population – You’? It may be labelled with tongue’s planted firmly in cheeks, but it’s also a huge song that shows you what Darwin and the Dinosaur are, for the most part, all about.
‘Theories’ is another mammoth slice of alt-rock, as is the punishing, riff-tastic ‘Making Friends with Strangers’. Yet Darwin and the Dinosaur are smart enough not to go straight for the jugular and just show off their technical prowess. Instead the songs twist and unfurl. Light and shade is used to great effect and the songs ebb and flow beautifully. Moments of serenity are just as important as the crushing guitars or bellowed vocals, and it means flashes of beauty such as ‘Life at Sea’ work perfectly to break up the album.
There are also a couple of moments of genuine brilliance. ‘Make Believe’ is surely one of the finest songs you’ll hear all year. Recalling Jonah Matranga’s Gratitude vehicle, it’s a straight-forward rock song executed exceptionally well. Likewise, the driving ‘Change of Heart’ is a similarly punchy number, yet the switches of tempo and intensity are brilliantly thought through and superbly performed.
There’s no denying the British music scene is in rude health at the moment, and any number of bands could make the jump into the wider consciousness after toiling in the DIY underground. With ‘A Thousand Ships’ there’s every chance Darwin and the Dinosaur could make the necessary big bang.
‘A Thousand Ships’ by Darwin and the Dinosaur is released on 9th March on No Panic! Records.
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)