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Album Review: Master Volume by The Dirty Nil

Canadian power pop/punk group The Dirty Nil release their second album Master Volume on 14th September via Dine Alone Records. Produced by veteran alt-rock architect John Goodmanson, this is an album that crunches and grooves where the band once smashed and trashed, unleashing the band’s undiminished raw power in more controlled waves to better target the back rows. “It’s less of a sprint and more of a strut,” singer Luke Bentham says, and he credits a great deal of the tempo shift to the arrival of Ross Miller, who replaced original bassist Dave Nardi in early 2017. While Ross was already Luke and drummer Kyle Fisher’s roommate, his pedigree includes playing with everyone from Wanda Jackson to Single Mothers.

This is a bigger, fuller sounding version of The Dirty Nil. It’s an album ready for big venues, full of big power riffs and choruses you can sing along to. It’s a result of the band’s relentless touring of their debut Higher Power and supporting the greats, Against Me, Billy Talent, Alexisonfire. Says Luke, “I think the experience of playing with bands like Against Me—bands that can put on a proper fucking rock show—and seeing what works in a big space definitely crept into the way we think about songs, and how to sound powerful. A lot of the times, when you play blitzkrieg-fast, it has a way of sounding awesome in a club. But when you’re playing in a giant space with some sound guy who’s never seen you before mixing you, it can be a roll of the dice.”

Adds Kyle, “Everyone says, ‘a good song’s a good song no matter how it’s recorded.’ But a good song can’t be a good song if nobody can hear it properly!”

Their debut was great, but this is moment in which the band come into their own and with this album they have confirmed themselves as one of rocks essential bands. It’s the fact that they can’t be defined that gives them so much charm, they’re too melodic and muscular to be purely punk, but too raucous and unhinged to pass as straight pop; too cheeky to be overtly political, but still acutely in tune with the unsettled, anxious energy of the times in which we live.

It’s a raucous and electrifying album that excites and resonates at every turn. The opening two tracks ‘That’s What Heaven Feels Like’ and ‘Bathed In Light’ are superb introductions to this new refined and focused version of the band. They get you on your toes, but it’s on the blisteringly fast and punky ‘Please, Please Me’ that you get the sense that this is something special. There’s energy seeping out of every riff and drum roll and you just want to dance. The fact that it sits beside the slower, more groove focused ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ showcase just how good The Dirty Nil are. The latter is immediate and instantly becomes one of your favourites.

‘Always High’ has the makings for a live favourite with its sing along moments and energy, while ‘Smoking Is Magic’ ramps up the punk attitude and then there’s ‘Super 8’ which sees the band crooning their way through two and half minutes of near perfect alt rock. If you were in any doubt that this is a great album, ‘I Don’t Want That Phone Call’ casts aside any misgivings – a focused and compact rhythm section plays as the perfect foil for the raucous guitars and shouty vocal. ‘Evil Side’ closes the album with a slower place, but one that fits in perfectly, the track oozes energy when it sporadically explodes with the rest resonating and engraining itself. The Dirty Nil have captured the world as it is in 2018, and soundtracked the rest of your year.

AD Rating 9/10

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