Take Back The Night isn’t one of those experiment Dwarves records, like the industrio-tinge of Come Clean. On their latest offering, the long-running band alternates styles consistently between their unique and twisted take on bubblegum pop-punk and screaming, single-vocalist hardcore. For the most part, the hardcore songs are fronted by Rex Everything (Nick Oliveri), with occasional SPB guest contributor Blag Dahlia leading the poppier jams. Songs cover a range of topics, mostly in that snarky and over-the-top lecherous tone the band has used for years, taking the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll concept to a comically creepy level -– some might argue a level too far. Given their penchant for sexual topics and recent cultural movements, there’s a topical feel to this release.
For me, anyway, it’s the songs of lecherous overreach that define the Dwarves, and those are plentiful here (examples include “Anything That Moves,” "Here's Looking At You," and “You Turn Me On”). Their softer side shines through—not lyrically—in the almost saccharine-smooth melody of “Trace Amounts,” which shows off some serious pop-writing chops. When they want to, they can write a catchy-ass song. “Trace Amounts” has damn-near Beach Boys-level harmony, even if the lyrics are about cocaine and snuff films.
The harder-edged songs create a different feel, both in tone and tempo. The Dwarves have always tried to make listeners a little uncomfortable, but when Oliveri lays it on the table about his criminal background while singing, “I’d fuck anything that moves,” it definitely hits a new peak in terms of discomfort. Typically with the Dwarves, the debaucherous tales come from a persona rather than real life. On a less personal level, “City By the Bay” is a response to living in the PC culture of San Francisco. While I get the point, it’s strange hearing the Dwarves approach the topic in a straight-forward way. Personally, I think a full record exploring the creatures of the night theme would be intriguing.
There are 15 songs here that fit firmly within the Young & Good Looking era. There’s not too much experimentation this time around, but a little more of a hardcore vibe that gives some new life to the album, even if those songs fail to jump out at me. Overall, Take Back the Night isn’t a reborn, retooled Dwarves and it’s not the band searching for a new identity either. It’s a record that’s neither too similar nor too experimental, falling right where fans are likely looking with some new flavors mixed in.
7.0 / 10
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