Dance Gavin Dance have become the kind of band catered more towards discussion than appreciation. Since their inception ten years ago, everybody who had been paying attention could clearly see the very public ups and downs that the band had experienced. It’s downright unnecessary to delve into the now-countless lineup changes, but it should be known that even through all of it, Dance Gavin Dance have still clung to relevance, all the while gliding through its ten years with unmitigated talent. What we have to look towards the future is Instant Gratification, the band’s sixth full-length record. While it’s a painfully moot point to compare the record to the band’s earlier work, it should be known that this, collectively, is Dance Gavin Dance’s best record to date.
The record begins with “We Own the Night”, the track that, when released as a single, easily proved how great the rest of the record would sound. I jokingly told my friends that this one track was better than all of 2013’s Acceptance Speech, a statement that became truer as time went on. “Stroke God, Millionaire” and lead single “On the Run” further proved how much this lineup has progressed in just two years. Tilian Pearson’s falsetto-laced vocals no longer sound processed and digitized, every underlying bass tone is in tact and not blasted, and every effect is used in moderation, making the whole package quite exceptional.
“Awkward” features former guitarist Zachary Garren and some of the band’s best-mixed guitar work to date while “Legend” welcomes Hail the Sun’s Aric Garcia’s intricate guitar tone to the family. “Eagle vs. Crows” and “Death of a Strawberry” bring out the pop tendencies that have been bursting at the band’s seams for years while album highlight “Variation” delivers the chaos that every DGD fan craves, complete with an insatiable chorus. Closer “Lost” finds screamer Jon Mess’ classic lyrical formula and delivery in full force, a career highlight for him.
I find myself wandering into various message boards and seeing countless posts comparing Pearson to Kurt Travis and Jonny Craig, as if a handful of fans’ opinions will somehow change the band back to their liking. It’s time to look to the future for this band, rather than compare it to ten years’ worth of work. Like it or not, Pearson is the best fit for Dance Gavin Dance and the work pouring out of lifers Will Swan and Matthew Mingus is only excelling. It took almost all ten of their years, but Dance Gavin Dance have finally found their appropriated team, and it sounds damn good.