For a band that harbors one of modern rock's most electrifying, melodically creative guitarists currently active, they sure don't get many questions about him. Following the release of their fifth album, 2013's Acceptance Speech, Sacramento, California post-hardcore band, Dance Gavin Dance, still somehow manage to get more attention for frequent member turnover than the near virtuosic technical skill of their lead guitar player and primary songwriter, Will Swan. Acceptance Speech marks the first recording featuring new clean vocalist, Tilian Pearson and sees the band delivering another solid, above average album thanks to Swan's seemingly inexhaustible aquifer of guitar creativity and the band's ever-present desire to experiment. Also, rapping guy is back again. So there's that too. All eleven tracks of Acceptance Speech will be analyzed in this review. 1. Jesus H. Macy The album starts off in similar fashion to each of the four preceding Dance Gavin Dance albums: with a Will Swan guitar riff. The melody that begins "Jesus H. Macy," is quick paced and gets the song moving fast from the start, launching it into a chaotic opening verse. Swan's guitar playing accomplishes the rare feat of being instantly recognizable, with fans familiar with his playing able to identify his work from the unorthodox note order of his compositions, fast moving pull-off riffs and heavy use of effects pedals. New singer Tilian Pearson enters later in the song, his voice noticeably higher in frequency than any other clean vocalist the band has had in the past. He compliments screaming vocalist Jon Mess nicely by almost never venturing into the lower vocal registers that Mess's scorching screams occupy, but he would better serve as a complimentary vocalist than the lead, as his vocals are so heavily focused in a narrow band of high frequencies. The band also retains the pummeling, metal influenced double bass-drum and palm muted guitar outbursts of previous albums, which gives the song a satisfying power. 2. The Robot With Human Hair pt.4 The band continue their tradition of multi-part song titles with the fifth song (thanks to 2011's part 2 ½) in the "Robot With Human Hair," series, "The Robot With Human Hair pt.4." Swan delivers a versatile guitar performance, inserting well timed pinch harmonics into nimble pull-off riffs before switching to airy, delayed textures, allowing Pearson and Mess's vocals to become the focus of the song. A bland chorus weighs the track down, but Swan's technically precise guitar runs and a mid-song bridge section featuring soaring clean vocals from Pearson rescue the song from being forgettable.
I'm Steve Gergley. I love music, movies, animation, Super Nintendo and fonts. I also love writing about those subjects and more. I have a blog where I write album reviews for punk, metal, rock and hardcore bands at https://sgergley.wordpress.com/. Math is power!