Greatest Hits by Tyrannosaurus Dead (Album)
C86 and grunge argue over who loves each other more in this superb example of the current revivalist noise-pop zeitgeist
t 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