Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone! (Best Before)
The first thing to note about Dananananaykroyd is that their unity, their combined sense of themselves, is perhaps stronger than any other band currently operating. Or, rather, their desire to be together, to present one viewpoint with the contribution of six coalescing into the violent musical opinion of one is unassailable. You can hear unity in every song, in every thunderous crash and bang, and it’s so simply achieved. The second thing to note about Dananananaykroyd is that they privilege enjoyment over everything else. Their live show is a sweaty, flamboyant and hugged-out affair, and it seems to have been a modus operandi to attempt its distillation into Hey Everyone!.
As far as statements of intent go, they rarely come more succinctly than the opening title track – a short and triumphant crash of precision finger-tapping and quadruple cymbal action. The intent turns to resolve with the following Watch This, the whole band emphatically chanting their own name before the true hyperactivity begins. Calum Gunn and John Baillie Jr.’s twin vocals are a constant delight throughout, always hysterical and almost bickering with hilarious abandon. Gunn immediately asserts a jovial tone with a girly “Hiya!” before those bickerings take off, and its left to the ensemble to provide the weight – which they do with immense power and style.
One might envisage a template for Dananananaykroyd’s songs – they skip and play awhile, but there’s always an explosion. With Watch This it comes after athletic rimshots and gentle backing vocals. The explosion itself is the purest expression of pop fury imaginable, shocking volume, big chord changes, singable guitars and yelping. The template can be seen again in Infinity Milk, newly extended since appearing in embryonic form on their exceptional debut EP, Sissy Hits. Here, the quiet descends after a fiery chorus for a solitary restatement of the guitar theme before fucking everything arrives again and we’re pushing on towards near-destruction of the vocals. Importantly, the non-vocal instruments remain controlled in their exuberance. It’s almost unfathomable that a group of six people can produce energy concentrate of this undiluted fashion, but an explanation might be that, besides their sheer vigour, the confines of the rock ensemble allow Dananananaykroyd to habitually bash their perimeters. Squash your unbounded energy into the smallest space possible, then watch it fly out with unbridled glee at the opportune moment.
The first single from Hey Everyone!, Black Wax doesn’t feature the band’s strongest chorus, but it demonstrates once again that contrasts have contextual to work. Unfussy and poppily led by tambourine and piano, the verses and choruses fly by until, at one sudden and decisive point, the song turns from unfussy pop to confident atmospherics. The nagging upwards scales in the backing vocals post-second chorus erupt into one of the album’s most triumphant moments (a euphoric/challenging example of the Gunn/Baillie bickering declares “That’s right!/So far!”) and, brief as it is, it’s hard to imagine rock moments more purely engaging as this one.
Guitar-wise, finer examples of knowledge of chord-construction and melodic leading rarely grace rock music currently. David Roy’s sound and technique is in debt to Ian Williams as much as Billy Corgan, at points impishly motive and, at others, simply and righteously classic rock. The duelling guitar harmonies of album-highlight ‘Some Dresses’ recall the pomposity of Thin Lizzy, but coupled with seriousness, an aggressive fun-factor that transcends mere histrionics. The bombastic outro of closer Song One Puzzle neatly steals the same E major thunder of Cherub Rock, but lays a foundation of nimble, jittery unisonic stabs to offset it. Throughout, there is much evidence of scholarly attention – the evocations of sewing machines and spinning wheels at the end of Some Dresses is masterful, a contemporised and clarified version of genius sonic painters – notably Gretchen’s spinning wheel in Gounod’s Faust.
As a work, Hey Everyone! doesn’t so much succeed as defiantly swirl around and announce, with authority, that you’re going to listen and love. Balancing the intricacy with the exuberance has proved to be a terribly valuable tool, and one that ensures Dananananaykroyd’s appeal will extend to a healthy mix of the thoughtful and the manic. The unity they’ve created is palpable through each song, and it could make this six-piece one to remember for a long time yet.
To hear bits of this gem in a puddle of pissy pretenders or something, go here. It’s out via Best Before on April 6th. You can also see what Dananananaykroyd got up to about two months ago here. Sounds good, dunnit? This review also appears at The Quietus.