Every once in a while, you come across a band so unique you become a missionary for their music. For a lot of people, including me, Dismemberment Plan is one of those bands.
Here's the drill. Believe the hype and stick with this CD; it takes several listens to get into it. Straight away, you'll be struck by a few songs, but overall the sound is so unusual, it can be off-putting. Don't give up-- albums like this continue to reveal something new each time you listen. Yes, it's a bit abstract, but there's a lot going on here. About half the songs are on the relatively accessible side-- pop music for a better, more creative world-- but the rest are dense, hyper-active and TENSE. There are loud-soft-loud passages, time and tempo changes, and out-of-tune keyboards furiously bleeping away, fronted by a singer who has a very appealing (if somewhat limited) voice. He comes across as sort of a sensitive spaz, joyously singing heart-breaking lyrics centered around some kind of a personal crisis (hence "Emergency & I").
What sealed the deal for me was seeing them live. You ever see a band that looks NOTHING like the picture in your head? This is 3 regular-looking slacker-dudes (probably college graduates) fronted by a dead-ringer for Hal Sparks from Talk Soup! You quickly realize this is his band, and this is his show. The singer has an awkward style, moves strangely, and just does not look like he should be fronting a rock band, let alone this one. Leaves you scratching your head wondering where in the heck his music comes from. However, he obviously feels an intense amount of joy when he performs these potentially awkward songs, which somehow makes it all work. I was just dumbfounded; this is one BRAVE guy. Trying to get all this complex, emotional, off-center stuff across to a room full of strangers, and just going for it as if their acceptance was never in doubt. Most bands like this are head-down, hair in face, barely acknowledging the audience. Not this guy, he's having the time of his life, as if all this weirdness is completely normal and right. It could all go horribly wrong at any moment, but in the end, you can't help rooting for him. There's a word for people like that-- genius!
I can't wait to see what they do next.