Double Dagger – More

January 01, 1970

(Thrill Jockey)

 

www.thrilljockey.com

 

Double Dagger, out of Baltimore,
crosses the hoarse-throated, minimalist Dischord aesthetic with the clanking
metallic funk of Gang of Four.  An
art-schooled, sardonically aware, unconventionally instrumented (no guitar, but
a bass that sounds like one) outfit, the band was known, early on, for wrapping
hard core rants around graphic design metaphors. Its name, after all, comes
from a typographical symbol and two of its three principals run a design firm
as their main moneymaking gig. With this third full-length, typographical
metaphors have mostly been abandoned. However, you can still intuit a
designer’s instinct for bold strokes against deep white space in the band’s
massive yet stark attack.

 

The band’s sound has solidified since 2007’s Ragged Rubble, adding
weight to a manic, head-splitting aesthetic. Singer Nolen Strals, in
particular, seems to have gotten a better grip on his voice. His rants still
splutter and rasp and shatter into pieces on occasion, but there’s a stronger
core to his performance than before. His best lyrics come in “Vivre Sans Temps
Mort”, a jittery stare-down with mortality that culminates in this verse: “When
we were 18 we saw our favorite band/and on our way there, a man with only half
a head/I knew that he had just died because his blood still reflected the
light/and that night, that night, I never felt more alive than I did that
night.”

 

Instrumentally, too, Double Dagger has raised the standard, combining
volatile elements in a series of controlled explosions. New drummer Denny Bowen
is especially good, laying down a framework, then punching it to frenetic bits.
He and bass player Bruce Willen sound especially in sync on post-punk-ish “Camouflage,”
the two locked in a hard-knocking groove, machine-precise but half a spasm from
chaos.

 

There are maybe fewer laughs than on Ragged Rubble, whose big hit was
“Luxury Condos for the Poor,” but in their place a good deal more power and
commitment. Bracing, fierce, intelligent and skewed, More is exactly
what the title promises, a larger helping of Double Dagger’s strengths.  

 

Standout tracks: “Vivre Sans
Temps Mort”, “Camouflage” JENNIFER
KELLY

 

 

 

 

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