D.I.D. are back, the bark inside has been resurrected as a shimmering come-of-age exploration, covering the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The last few years have been “particularly strange” for D.I.D frontman, Rob Milton. It’s been four since the former Dog Is Dead released their debut, ‘All Our Favourite Stories’, and had it takeover Indie Twitter with its artwork transformed into a reaction picture.
Latest album ‘The State We’re In’ despite its name “isn’t really a political commentary”. Instead for Rob, “this record is about everything I've been through as a guy in early-mid-twenties in Nottingham.” He explains, “I've tried to be as honest as possible, I think some of it is rather vivid.”
A glistening collection of ten tracks that are as melodic as they are reflective, D.I.D have taken a step upwards from their jangly jubilance to a place that irresistibly fuses pop sensibilities with glossed soul and a sense of relief with every spoken word.
Reacting to both the “turbulent moments” and the exciting ones of millennial life, writing the album provided cathartic. “I think working on a record this independently can be insular at times but also empowering,” says Milton.
“The world is in a weird place right now. Personally I'm in a good state of mind, this album's been my therapy.”
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‘The State We’re In’ reintroduces us to tracks stripped from last year’s ‘Fast Food’ EP, so the darkness shouldn’t come as a surprise. ‘Hotel’ is lashed with viper honest lyricism ‘I need the money, then I’m out of your mind’, whilst ‘Fast Food’ provides witty social commentary to the dawdling idleness of today’s relationship.
‘Funnybones’ is an emotive ballad that kicks to the core finding its soaring strength. Electronic glitches spark atop of simple keys that complement the neat ‘Flush’, making cutting people seem a refreshing process. Closer ‘I Meant To Hurt You’ however, does the opposite.
“’Heavy Cloud’ is basically about wrestling with anxiety,” explains Rob, as the lullaby of the record it features an angelic vocal embraced by a soothing harmony.
Documenting his moving out from the family home on the title track; “It's basically me talking about how weird I felt about everyone else being grown up and independent.” He says, “I was on tour so much through my teens and early twenties, I only just got the chance.”
Gentle in the rhythm and tender in the vocal, the song is an ode; ‘tonight I’m gonna make you, proud of me’, despite being willing to give his left arm for some juice in the fridge and ordering the cheapest meal on the menu for the change. Brooding and moving, with the context behind it the significance doubles.
“Although we didn't start out with a plan everything started making sense recently… It's funny because I think the record actually sounds upbeat! I promise it's not all misery.”
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I don't think I could write an album that didn't have its dark patches.
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It’s true, as latest release, ‘Killer Whale’ tackles the theme of bullying yet does so in old fashioned D.I.D style; all five piece harmonies, carnival-esque rhythms and sugared hooks. From the sultriness, downbeat reggae roots of ‘Gameplan’ to the sharp but slithery delivery of ‘Big Lie’, you catch yourself humming to brutality and dancing to your subconscious feelings.
One minute you’re toe-tapping, the next you’re stretching out for your heartstrings after having them pulled.
“Such is life.” Says the frontman, “I don't think I could write an album that didn't have its dark patches. I've exercised my right to vent in detail about anything or anyone I choose, that's the best thing about writing songs.”
If it’s one thing that D.I.D should be applauded for is their sheer ability to write songs that don’t jeopardise lyrical depth for their eccentric five piece musical arrangement, or vice versa. Instead they utilise both to rocketing heights. It’s this contradiction that makes D.I.D so intriguing.
In reflection, “Well, I think we wanted to utilise our voices and push our harmony arrangements on this record. Maybe you're expected to grow out of things like that but we didn't want to make anything too mature sounding.” The fun of the band hasn’t been abandoned in their deeper writing, and why should it? To come-of-age isn’t to turn into a state of inhibition. “There's also some electronic aspects to the record which is me having fun with the production.”
In fact, if the record were to soundtrack a movie, it’d see Guillermo Del Toro “direct Jonah Hill's embarrassing journey as a part time, single, nightclub DJ trying to prove to his parents his band will make it.”
Whether they’re referencing the Nottingham temple of Rock City, or finding metaphors in takeaways, D.I.D have nailed it once more in immortalising the quintessentially British attitude to young life. Don’t take it too seriously, or too loosely.
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'The State We're In' is set to be released on December 2nd. Catch D.I.D. at the following shows:
2 London Shacklewell Arms
3 Nottingham Bodega
Words: Tanyel Gumushan