Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In Which You Follow The Gospel Truth

Deftones – Saturday Night Wrist

The Deftones are a notoriously uneven band, capable of being both absolutely brilliant and completely disappointing, often almost at the same time. Their b-sides album (released the year before last) contained both an audio disc (pretty average) and a DVD containing their music videos interleaved with random footage (totally awesome). Their albums are usually pretty strong, the high points being Around the Fur and White Pony (opinions differ as to which is better, I prefer the latter but I can see why the former is well loved too), Adrenaline is not bad for a first album and their fourth (self titled) contains a lot of very good songs but for some reason is usually too dense and hard to listen to all at once. On the other hand I can't recommend them as a live band. I saw them live at the Big Day Out in 2004, and I hate to say it but they were a tremendous disappointment.

So it was with grounded expectations that I bought their new album, Saturday Night Wrist, fortunately I'm pleased to report that it's pretty good. I doubt that they'll ever recapture the brilliance of White Pony, but this album is a solid effort. These guys are one of those bands who go in a different direction on each album, and on this one they've chosen an interesting, promising one. A lot of bands continue to pretend to be angst filled youths when in actual fact they've long ago begun comfortably settling into a tame middle age with their bags of money, so it is nice to see on this album that the Deftones have managed to introduce a more upbeat mood while still remaining heavy. This is complemented by an increased use of electronics and loops, and lots of generally weird noises and kooky scales. A Faith No More influence is definitely in attendance.

The first single, 'Hole in the Earth', sounds like it could have come off one of their earlier albums but is not representative of the rest of Saturday Night Wrist. A more typical track is 'Beware', which combines a haunting but slow and heavy chorus with a quirky off-kilter verse riff, and a nice, heavy, more traditionally Deftonesy outro. Other notable tracks include 'Mein', which features Serj from System of a Down, and 'U,U,D,D,L,R,L,R,A,B,SELECT,START', which is an instrumental with a sad, lonely mood that belies it's goofy name. The only song I like more than 'Beware' is the outstanding 'Pink Cellphone', which sets sultry spoken word female vocals atop a minimal electronic backing loop. The lyrics start out as strange religious phrases but end up mutating into dirty sex talk. Frivolous but endlessly entertaining.

Most of the rest of the album is good but not superlative. These guys have done a lot better in the past but the highlight tracks more than make it worth the purchase and I'd probably rate it higher than their self-titled. They'll also have another chance to increase my opinion of them next month when I see them live again...


Skwid said...

Contra combo! See also: Lo-Fi Allstars.

Andrew Brown said...

around the fur > white pony.

probably because I got into the deftones when around the fur came out, and I thought it was awesome, and while white pony is very very good, I dislike their use of turntables and samples and preferred their more simple and heavy stuff. i seriously dislike their not heavy stuff.

oh, and i dislike the new album a lot, even more than their self titled album..

opinions on the internet!

Jon said...

Andrew: If you don't like electronics then you definitely won't like the new album. Also, you are nuts.

Skwid: I am bewildered and confused.

Andrew Brown said...

I like electronic music. I'd almost go as far to say that I love electronic music. Not all of it, psytrance and some ambient stuff, but electronic music should be just that, and don't try to make "songs" with it, as it falls on it's face.

Plus metal+electronic=wrong. The two should not be combined.

Jon said...

No no no. Metal + electronics = oh so right.