After six years as a band, the time has finally come for Dead! to release their debut album.
Throughout the years they’ve released multiple EPs, but fans have been crying out for a full-length for a while.
If you’ve seen Dead! live at any point in the past two years, you’ll be familiar with a chunk of the songs which appear on The Golden Age of Not Even Trying.
Enough, Enough, Enough, Up For Ran$om and You’re So Cheap have been set staples for a while (the latter released as a single back in May 2016). It would have been remiss to exclude them from the album, but they dramatically age it.
That being said, they’re the best of the 12 songs. Up For Ran$om shows vocalist Alex Mountford’s swag at its strongest, lazily slurring his words as he sings, “You’re so fucking handsome, baby”. The studio version has been layered, adding a depth to the song which is missing in a live environment.
Meanwhile, Enough, Enough, Enough sounds unfinished, the grunge guitars discordantly framing Mountford’s voice, adding an underground feel to the release.
It’s quintessential Dead!, blending lyrics which verge on gothic with a repetitive earworm that gets you grinning despite the grim subject matter discussed.
However, the rest of the album doesn’t feel like Dead!. The band made it this far without an album for one reason: they’re unique. But sadly, the majority of The Golden Age of Not Even Trying feels like the band are trying to be something they’re not.
This is partly because of the prominence of the influences that they’ve drawn upon. Petrol & Anaesthetic directly mirror the verses of My Chemical Romance’s Planetary (GO!), while W9 shows Mountford trying extremely hard to sound like Gerard Way, making it impossible to recognise the four-piece as British.
The Golden Age of Not Even Trying is reminiscent of Blur’s Song 2, while opening track The Boys ✞ The Boys invokes the spirit of Kids in Glass Houses’ Animals.
It’s disappointing, to say the least. Any Port retains some of their signature spark, but quickly becomes repetitive. Off White Paint’s powerful drum beat gives the song a promising start, but it matches uncomfortably with the vocal when it kicks in.
Jessica and A Conversation With Concrete are hardly worth mentioning: although the former sounds beautiful in a live environment, it’s boring on a recording, and the latter is unbearably average.
Finally, closing track Youth Screams & Fades plays Mountford singing over speaking in the background, making it impossible to concentrate on either aspect. It’s a distorted, confusing end to what should have been a game-changing debut.
There’s a lesson to be learned from this album: be yourself.
Dead! have been pacing themselves for the past five years, limiting themselves to releasing a handful of songs with each EP, and every year has seen them take huge step forwards, making vast improvements to their song-writing and performing.
Unfortunately, it seems the band just weren’t ready to make an album.