Punk most definitely has a state of today. Yes, it’s still an unsuspectingly “diverse” little genre, but ultimately it’s been most popular in one little method as of late. Make it pretty, make it mildly poppy, but most of all, get it sounding a little bougie and paid for. This isn’t to say punk doesn’t have it’s edge anymore, but it is to say that popularity speaks volumes in music no matter how hard we want it to be otherwise. Before we go anywhere further, I know from personal research and experience that fans of Hamilton, ON three-piece alt-punk combo The Dirty Nil stan hard for these cats. Admittedly, I’m very much a Dirty Nil greenhorn, but after threats of violence on the part of fellow writer and sometimes “fishing” partner up in a secluded mountain in Wyoming, Justin Bruce, I decided to go at this particular piece with vigor and rage. Conveniently enough, this is my dissection of The Dirty Nil’s very fresh off the press release, Fuck Art.
I’m not fucking around when I deem this title ever so convenient, as this record without shame seemingly has the intent of sticking their collective dicks in a laundry list of artistic accomplishments of bands they may or may not actually like because why the fuck would I know that for fact? Wanna watch your favourite bougie punk band play your favourite ‘90’s frat party song? Then check out “Elvis ‘77.” “Ride or Die” sounds like your favourite Bougie punk band playing your favourite Black Sabbath style banger. Check out “Hang Yer Moon” if you wanna see your favourite bougie punk band playing your favourite Alice in Chains jam (no, it’s not a cover), or just slap on “Done With Drugs” to hear your favourite bougie punk band sound like your favourite bougie punk band. Twists, turns and odd contortions like these can be found throughout this record and it’s up to you to figure out if you like it or not, but speaking for myself? I’m still a little stuck on the opening track “Doom Boy.”
Now, I’m not typically one to split hairs over lyrical content or thematics within a song because interpretation is fickle, to say the least, but this particular tune has me beside myself. On the one hand, this song has schlap qualities that are undeniable in the sense that it’s obscenely catchy while still being intricate and unique in both instrumentation and vocal construct to set itself apart from the radio variety. On the other hand, this track fantasizes about acquiring a human counterpart that shares an adoration for a variety of named and mildly niche metal and hardcore bands with which to enjoy together romantically. Maybe this speaks of actual personal experiences and desires, but if it’s just your favourite bougie punk band making the auditory equivalent of “get me a big titty goth girl” then please kindly fuck yourselves as these aesthetics aren’t your tinder nor a ground for ridicule. Before you try to stuff your facts in my face, I know dancing in the metal moonlight is very much common for these Hammer boys (I.E their cover of “Hit The Lights” as part of their previous effort Master Volume’s deluxe release). Ultimately, it’s the song I hate to love, but then reality sinks in and this kind of jam has always tickled my fancy. So really, fuck me.
Fuck Art does what all cleaned up punk bands like Pup, or arguably The Flatliners do while following bands like Green Day and Alkaline Trio. It takes your punk aesthetic with its dirty riffs and defiant insinuations, then cleans it up with fantastic recording engineering, tosses in some off-brand grooves and emotionally driven melodies, and out the door it goes with a picture of a cute puppy on the cover. I can safely say there are parts of this record I dig with full admission and others I could have gone without. Parts with truly impressive combinations of riffage and pattern, and parts where the lyrics are quite literally different variations of “doo doo doo.” Often when I have to ask myself if I really like a record this many times, the answer will continue to elude me till the act releases another effort to nail it down. In this particular case, I’ll leave this off with a “Goddamn that really is a cute pupper on the cover though.”
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate