Listening to the debut album from Glasgow sextet Dananananaykroyd, I couldn’t help being reminded of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.
No, seriously. ‘Hey Everyone!’ is bullish, muscular and labyrinthine, but, threaded through all, pulling us through the glorious mayhem are undeniable strands of melody. And my, how that titular exclamation mark is warranted. The dozen tracks on this record pound the solar plexus, forcing the air from your lungs, the guitars pricklier than cacti, the rhythms racing like a Formula 1 car and the vocals a gleeful, rottweiler bark.
But, what I like about this record most if all is how unforced it all feels. There is nothing contrived, you don’t for one second feel that Dana feel any compulsion to pander to what is currently in vogue; instead they operate in their own sphere, vaguely recognisable but utterly distinct. There’s a wonderfully daft moment in the opening seconds of ‘Watch This!’ when they address us with an absurdly camp “Hiya”. It’s just a small moment, but typical of a band who, despite their undoubted musical prowess, refuse to take themselves too seriously.
But, you must take them seriously. On the first few listens you’re simply overwhelmed by the sheer speed at which they attack; the screaming vocals, the mad rushing ecstasy of it all. Soon, though, the manic fog begins to lift and, with dazzling clarity, you see the contours and defining characteristics of their songs. Some tracks – ‘The Greater Than Symbol and The Hash’, ‘Pink Sabbath’, ‘Totally Bone’, ‘Some Dresses’ – you’ll already be familiar with from previous singles and last year’s ‘Sissy Hits’ EP. Elsewhere, forthcoming album lead single ‘Black Wax’ is a glorious fidget-pop moment, the cutthroat sound honed down a little… why, there is even a choir of sorts.
However, just when you’re thinking they’ve gone soft they come back with the triple whammy of ‘Totally Bone’, ‘Pink Sabbath’ and ‘Infinity Milk’. It’s beyond-belief fierce and you can only imagine their aim is to make the sky cave in. And just what are they playing those drums with, sticks of dynamite? The rhythms are gargantuan. The latter song proclaims “Whoa! My God, you reside in the details”: they could be talking about themselves, the intricacy of the guitars, the vocal jousting, the loping grace of the bass.
Living up to the sentiment of the title, ‘One Chance’ grasps the moment in a ferocious 58-second bear hug of squalling guitar and man-on-fire vocals. ‘Some Dresses’ meanwhile provides relative respite, communal vocal to open, then gently tickled guitar and into a blitzkrieg bop of a chorus. They up the ante for ‘Hey James’: “These are the days of our fucking lives!” they holler, accenting the words with a venomous edge of hope and disappointment. Round 12 and they lay us out flat with ‘Song One Puzzle’, drums and guitars conjoining with an Uzi ratatat that is utterly lethal.
With ‘Hey Everyone!’ Dananananaykroyd have made a debut album as unforgettable as their name is unwieldy, and it is a magnificent achievement.