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Die! Die! Die! 'Harmony' Blows Away Cosmos Gaming's Chris Dahlberg

'Harmony' is an album I was excited to check out and see if Die! Die! Die! had progressed to the point that I always felt they were capable of, and they blew away my expectations.

The last time I listened to New Zealand’s Die! Die! Die! was in 2008 when their sophomore effort 'Promises, Promises' came out.  While they were a band that I enjoyed listening to thanks to their energetic blend of punk and noise pop, both of their albums didn’t quite have enough staying power to become efforts I returned to on a regular basis.  I lost track of the band after that, and since that time they have put out two more records (2010’s 'Form' and last year’s 'Harmony').  Although I’m a bit late to check out 'Harmony' as it has been out for about nine months now, the band has gone through some stylistic changes since the last time I listened to them and really taken their songwriting to new heights.  

It wouldn’t be appropriate to say that Die! Die! Die! has mellowed out completely, but they have written a lot more songs that go for a drearier aesthetic and slow down the tempo. 'Promises, Promises' had some hints of this direction but in the time between releases the band seems to have really embraced post punk and riffs that are much more melodically focused than before.  There are still tracks where the instrumentals return to the quick, punchy riffs that were showcased early on but as a whole these guys seem to have become more adventurous and have much more depth than before.  What is great about 'Harmony' is that it is able to move between its direct and spaced out tracks with relative ease and is always able to offer some sort of hook that draws listeners in.  It may have taken some exploration of different ideas, but Die! Die! Die! appears to have finally hit that level of songwriting where they are able to consistently impress from beginning to end.

Vocalist Andrew Wilson has gotten a little more subdued as well, but there are still plenty of times where his voice heads back towards the upper register and delivers the shorter, aggressive tonality that was dominant on the band’s debut.  I have always found that Wilson was one of the aspects of Die! Die! Die! that really stood out, as he has always been able to utilize a variety of pitches and cover both mellower and in your face styles.  Admittedly there’s nothing on this record that’s quite as in your face as "A.T.T.I.T.U.D." or some of the group’s other early tracks, but I did feel that Wilson hasn’t entirely lost this side to his performance and it is still reflected on 'Harmony'.  Overall, the performance on this record feels quite balanced and while it doesn’t quite match the spastic nature of the band’s first two albums that doesn’t mean the vocals have simply faded away entirely.

'Harmony' is an album I was excited to check out and see if Die! Die! Die! had progressed to the point that I always felt they were capable of, and they blew away my expectations.  This is a record that had strong hooks from beginning to end and a nice blend of post punk and mellower riffs mixed in with the bouncier punk and noise pop the band has become known for.  It looks like I’ll need to track down 2010’s 'Form' to see just what I have missed, and there is still plenty to look forward to as the group’s Facebook says they’re getting ready to record another album very soon.

Chris Dahlberg

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