Album Review: Dance Gavin Dance - ‘Artificial Selection’


American rock quintet Dance Gavin Dance stun with their newest album, ‘Artificial Selection’. Equal parts intense, experimental and melodic, it’s the perfect amalgamation of progressive rock and post-hardcore. 

Artificial Selection’ is the eighth studio album of Dance Gavin Dance, and it’s fair to say that their previous recording and touring experiences have been harnessed to make this their most diverse record yet. There are no shortages of technical flourishes, empowering melodies and slamming breakdowns, as the quintet push at the edges of the boundary to evolve their unique sound. 

Son Of Robot’ introduces the listener with a childish melody, creating an aura of innocence and wonder before the full instrumentals slam in without warning. The listener is plunged into a whirlwind of frenzied drumming and brutal screaming, knocking you off your feet with its force before Tillian Pearson’s raspy voice brings you back with a sultry melody. It’s a dynamic opening track - there are moments of pure stillness as high vocals cut through seraphic guitars, but there are also crushing moments as instruments and screams attack through the speakers. 

A similar vein joins the next track, ‘Midnight Crusade’. A catchy chorus backed by intricate guitar lines are complimented by an equally memorable bridge, as clean vocals are layered on top of another and make you want to groove to it. The ending is hard-hitting as blast beats and screams are lined up with each other, creating a forceful texture that will snatch your breath. 

This would not be a Dance Gavin Dance album without a track that changes halfway into a groovier section, and on this album, it is done on the track ‘Care’. Packed with poignant lyrics, a dreamy opening gives way to a funky ending, and the line ‘God damn. It’s an obsession’ perfectly sums up how I feel about this track. Pearson begins with ‘For now, we’ll lay by the ocean’ and the lulling guitars underneath really help paint this line vividly in your head. The chorus will tug at your heartstrings, as Pearson’s expressive high notes are juxtaposed with Jon Mess’ impassioned screaming.

One of the heavier moments on the album comes in the form of ‘The Rattler’ as shrieking guitars are paired with Mess’ high screams. It’s intense and powerful, as the kick drum hammers away tirelessly and rattle your bones. ‘Bloodsucker’ is another heavy moment on the album, as every syllable screamed by Mess punctures through the speakers. Virtuosic instruments flurry about underneath, with ascending guitar scales and rapid riffing. A moment of serenity is created in the bridge as the guitars pause their incessant playing and Pearson’s clean vocals creates a whimsical soundscape. 

Ending track ‘Evaporate’ begins with a repeated low-tuned guitar riff, before a guitar chord transports you to another sound dimension with Pearson’s introspective vocals. The interplay of textures keeps the listener on their toes, and as the album finishes with ‘you get what you paid for’ being sung and screamed at the same time, it’s a glorious moment that will leave its impact. 

‘Artificial Selection’ comes out on June 8th via Rise Records. Prepare to be blown away by instrumental virtuosity and dazzling tracks. 

Words by Athena Kam