ALBUM REVIEW: The Dirty Nil, FUCK ART
The Dirty Nil are a pop-punk trio hailing from Ontario. FUCK ART is their third full-length studio album, and in some regards it lives up to its title. For one, it definitely has an irreverent “middle finger to the world” ethos coming through in some of the lyrics like “we’ll break even when we’re on the ground” on “To The Guy Who Stole My Bike”. Pop-punk in general tends to give off those types of vibes, but with accents of Metallica and Mastodon style thrash on tracks like “Doom Boy” and “Ride Or Die” the band seems to especially be trying to pump their music with some extra “f*ck you”.
Other than those few added characteristics, the bold title doesn’t really fit the often generic pop-punk style that is displayed all over this LP. Even with all the thrash influence and some screaming on the opener “Doom Boy”, Luke Bentham’s vocals sound like just about any band that would’ve been on the Warped Tour lineup in the late ‘00s. Whether drawing from My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects or Taking Back Sunday, Bentham just seems Hell bent on keeping things as traditional as humanly possible. This is not always to the album’s detriment, but I would’ve liked to see the band go into a darker and more chaotic punk direction instead of just occasionally pulling from that sound.
The music they string together can sometimes be pretty fun regardless of all the criticism I just laid on it. The opener “Doom Boy” is actually a lot of fun and the guitar soloing on the track is downright impressive. Lyrics like “listen to Slayer in the back of my Dodge Caravan (it’s my mom’s Dodge Caravan)” are definitely tongue-in-cheek and give the song personality. “Elvis ‘77” has a lot more soloing. The typical, anthemic pop-punk vocals actually suit the track’s needs well, as Bentham calls out “WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL YOUR MOMMA MORE??” repeatedly at the end, I could imagine this playing well at an outdoor show. As I said before, “Ride or Die” sounds like a bastard child of Metallica and Mastodon, pure no frills thrash-punk thrill. The track has this really steady pacing to it, led by some ferocious guitar and drum passages, but I just wish it went even harder.
The lyricism often heads towards over-exaggeration territory at certain spots on the record. “It fell apart fantastically, collapsed with great efficiency” Bentham sings on “Possession”. Lyrics like this make me shrug; it just feels like padding for time, saying the exact same thing twice with a bunch of big words for no real reason. This track is saved by its call and response, blood-pumping chorus, “What the f*ck do you know about affection?/This isn’t love, it’s possession” The worst offender of being way over dramatic is “To The Guy Who Stole My Bike”. Not only is the instrumental boring and way annoying, but lyrics like “I got a history of pissing in the wishing well” are just downright cringe worthy.
There are quite a few bad and mid tracks, especially later in the tracklisting where the band seems like they stop trying. “Hang Yer Moon” has the dime-a-dozen pop-punk instrumental, but on top of that, it has a bad chorus, and this part in the middle where Bentham just gives up altogether and sings “Doot doot do doot da do”. It attempts to give itself a false sense of edge with some of the lyrics and a “open the pit” breakdown, but in the end they just sound like a broke ass MCR. “Hello Jealousy” is maybe not the worst track but it’s certainly the most painfully average one. I swear to God I’ve heard this bass led, drum fill fest style-instrumental 100,000 times before on other pop-punk albums, it’s so nondescript and the vocals just make it worse.
There’s a reason why pop-punk doesn’t get a lot of love from the mainstream music outlets anymore, it’s because it’s a style that has been done to death. It’s stuck in the past where only a handful of bands did it great anyway, and in the modern era I barely see its purpose. With all that being said, I don't hate The Dirty Nil, I appreciate them for some of their heavier elements and their sense of humor. I just know they can do better, be funnier and get heavier, that’s all.