Death-disco duo DZ Deathrays are back. Another duo you say? Yes. But don’t worry, there isn’t a sniff of blues to be found here. Promise.
2012’s Bloodstreams was the Aussie’s first full length effort and packed one hell of a punch, in fact listening to it back, you can’t help but get the feeling the band must have been absolutely exhausted performing any one of those tracks live. It was a thousand miles an hour from start to finish and certainly established them as energetic lads.
The problem with an album like Bloodstreams is the aftermath. You can’t just go balls to the wall again for album two, you run the risk of becoming formulaic. But at the same time you can’t go full on acoustic, you run the risk of alienating the fan base which loved your first album. Dilemma. Fortunately Black Rat side steps these issues by having what matters at the end of the day; great songs.
Album opener and namesake ‘Black Rat’ begins worryingly similar to the sounds of their first release, before taking a sharp turn into melody and harmonics just twenty seconds in. Phew. It’s a welcome change and adds an extra layer of depth to the band’s sound. It’s the key to this albums success. The odd falsetto notes are even audible, a nice touch.
The good vibes continue into ‘Gina Works At Hearts’, the best thing this band have ever created. No question. A mix of savage riffs, an irresistible pre-chorus/chorus and pop hooks galore. If you’ve never listened to DZ before, this is the track to indulge yourself with.
‘Less Out of Sync’ harks back to the raucous rebellion of old with added melodrama in the form of a breakdown complete with reverb guitars and whispered vocals, whilst ‘Reflective Skull’ brings the groove, arriving onto the scene like a funk freight train. ‘Keep Myself On Edge’ is another highlight, giving us a glimpse at how MGMT might sound if they’d listened to more Nirvana than Brian Eno.
Black Rat is the sound of a band evolving into more than just a party band, but into a main player on the rock circuit. Case and point is ‘Northern Lights’, a four minute slow burner; it features vocalist Shane Parsons pondering morales and ethics, “Getting hassled but his lesson’s learnt, Staying true’s more trouble than it’s worth”. Its tracks like these, partnered with the bombastics of tracks like ‘Ocean Exploder’, which makes them such an exciting prospect.
Sure, other rock duos might be getting more of the limelight right now, but there’s no question that they’re not the be all and end all of the genre. With a Death From Above 1979 album looming on the horizon and Royal Blood’s debut sounding large than life, DZ Deathrays are holding their own in esteemed company, and if their evolution continues at the pace they’ve demonstrated, we could have another all conquering duo in the not so distant future.
Black Rat is out now via Infectious.