Greatest Hits by Tyrannosaurus Dead (Album)

21 February, 2014 in Music Reviews

Tyrannosaurus Dead

C86 and grunge argue over who loves each other more in this superb example of the current revivalist noise-pop zeitgeist

Tyrannosaurus Deadt says something when a band entitles their first foray into the album arena Greatest Hits. The casual listener might consider it conceited, but the shrewdly-eared among us will know that this playful title is the perfect label for the early recordings of noise-pop collective Tyrannosaurus Dead.

Part of the wonderful collection of C86-thumbing artists, who’ve taken the crunch of grunge and allied it to the kind of glorious pop melodies that R.E.M made during their formative years, this Brighton five-piece offer much in this 16-track collection. Drawn from five different earlier releases – including two compilations, two EPs and a 12” – it’s the songs that are taken from last July’s Pure & Apart 12” that are the most enduringly infectious.

On tracks like Matthew, Sadie and the album’s standout track Splinters, they sound like a glorious fusion of The Wedding Present, The Flatmates, Dinosaur Jr, The Soup Dragons and The Shop Assistants. However listen to Pure & Apart closely and you’ll also hear Oasis’s Champagne Supernova poking out from between Close Lobsters’ tousled fringe. Though it’s champagne which has cooled thoroughly in a kitsch 80s fridge.

It’s not only on those tracks that Tyrannosaurus Dead show their quality. The wonderfully named Oyster Boy You’re A Blast has a superb stop-start tempo, while the grungey Bed Dread and the aching Lemonade, which has a grave, Smiths-meets-Sebadoh resigned tone, are further highlights. The band’s duality of male and female vocals also offers a wonderful harmonic quality that’s both balanced and off-kilter and is a further strength.

Tyrannosaurus Dead are a little less frenetic than their friends Joanna Gruesome, but harbour the same desire to make music that both reeks of vitality and is washed over with longing desire for a time when it really meant something to be in an indie-rock band. Their closest contemporary musical allies are city mates Playlounge, with a little of Spotlight Kid and Flowers, womb-like distortion blanketing their hectic pop songs.

At times it’s as though you’ve opened the door on a rehearsal, with the melodious ramble fighting its way to greater clarity. It’s what compelled you to open the door, though, that’s the most compelling aspect of their songs: their music invites you in. Greatest Hits is chock-full of never-to-be hits, that sound as though they’re never in a hurry, but are equally ill at ease standing still.

Verdict: Noise pop that puts heavy emphasis on the shambling qualities of melody

Damien Girling

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