Ten years out of the game is a long time for anyone. But for The Dismemberment Plan it may seem even longer. In the decade since the Washington-born ensemble called it a day, the hyperventilating art-punk genre they once excelled in has been pounded, pummelled, and packaged into something that sells records and everything else—from potato chips to high-end motors.
The return of the pioneering quartet, then, is surely cause to celebrate. In a time where even the most iconoclastic acts reunite to pay the tax man, it's refreshing to think this is one comeback that may actually be about the music—particularly when guitarist Jason Caddell tells us the band have "always been more abstract than sales and statistics."
Studio album number five, Uncanney Valley, certainly backs this view up. An agitated yet hook-heavy affair, these 10 cuts feel like an act reacquainting itself, slipping into a creative comfort zone that still requires a little polish. In that sense, the first few listens will always compare unfavorably against the past, with "Daddy Was a Real Good Dancer" and "Invisible" in particular sinking as clumsy disappointments.
Thankfully their technical excellence remains intact. The schizoid percussion of "No One's Saying Nothing" is a breathless opener; the love-stained "Lookin" is built on an intricate needlework of guitar and gorgeous synth; while "Waiting" is a jittering, pseudo-funk gem. And while it might lack the punch of old, Uncanney Valley certainly proves that, 10 years on, there's still life left in these old dogs.
First published here fore Under the Radar