On a long enough timeline, all genre descriptors start to lose meaning. Spend enough time hopping through the tags on Bandcamp, and you'll discover that "hardcore" and "post-hardcore" are mired down with mostly those bands who are championed as "emo revival" on the internet. Despite whatever evidence there is to the contrary, give it enough thought and it starts to feel like 2014 is the year that hardcore lost its menace. On "Even In the End", the closing track from their new record out on Drag City, Dope Body frontman Andrew Laumann wonders aloud, "What is hardcore?" It's a rhetorical question. Neither he nor anyone else in the band wants or cares to know the answer.
Later on in the same song, Laumann pleads that no one tell him who his band reminds them of. Earlier in the album, he talks about wanting to be original. There's a lot of pleading and open rhetorical questions all over Lifer. The lyrics are chocked full of stuff like the anxiety of talking to girls, feeling fucked up, and just general nervousness.
What's remarkable, though, is that these themes aren't initially apparent. Based solely on what the band is doing sonically, this is a swaggeringly confident album. It's only on repeated listens does all the freaking out start to bubble up to the surface.
In a lot of ways, Lifer is a rock and roll record --or at least Dope Body's take on rock and roll. It's big, it's brash, it's completely unapologetic. Put simply, it's the sound of a band just going for it. Songs like "Nu Sensation," "AOL," and "Hired Gun" strut and preen, and dare you to piss on this parade.
"Rare Air" seethes while Laumann croons and the sounds build up behind in him. In the last minute or so, guitars start dive-bombing. "Toy" has a real gallop to it. It moves with the sort of urgency that feels like you're stuffing 40's into your winter coat while ducking glances from the store clerk. "Echo" slinks nervously during the verses and then explodes; it feels like a really demented take on that one part in Fantasia with all the brooms.
Dope Body is a band defined by their live show. Laumann, almost always shirtless, writhes and gesticulates wildly. At times, it really truly looks like he's exercising demons--like actual demons that are right in front him. With Lifer, it seems like he's at least one step closer to getting some of them under his thumb.
8.8 / 10
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