Remote Control, 2010

Die! Die! Die! are a great live band. Hell, they’re an incredible live band. Get 100 people and give them a few beers, jam them into a sweaty room and have Die! Die! Die! roll out a few tunes and 99 of them will walk out with a massive smile on their face. That is a fact. Unfortunately, they still haven’t managed to find a way to put that energy and excitement onto a little round disc. Although they do try, this record comes up well short of reproducing anything anywhere near as good as a Die! Die! Die! stage show.

Form is the Dunedin trio’s third full length offering, and the basic formulae of past albums are all there. Short, fast, syncopated, loud. This time, the album is more melodic, the lyrics more catchy, but the main difference over its predecessors is the amount of production thrown at it. I’m not sure what Skeptics bassist Nick Roughan was hoping for when he stepped up to the producer table but it seems as though he’s trying to make up for the lack of energy of a real DDD encounter and jam the empty spaces with a tonne of reverb. The album drips with it. Andrew Wilson’s endearing scratchy schoolboy vocals get forced right back in the mix and his guitar takes the lead role as the main melodic driver. It turns what is normally bottom heavy dirty punk into more radio friendly washed out pop-punk reminiscent of Les Savy Fav. DDD have always been more popular overseas than in their hometown, so perhaps this is a calculated move for the NZ lads trying to garner more local attention after signing with the iconic Kiwi label Flying Nun earlier this year.

At first listen, there aren’t too many surprises for most of the 38 minutes of Form, however on repeat there are definitely a couple of hidden gems in there. The arpeggios at the beginning of “Howye” slowly building into a distorted mess show the band is capable of adding some form of dynamic to their songs.“Lil Ships” is immediately attention grabbing and follows the 3 minute 30 second template almost every successful pop song sticks to. The standout is “We Build Our Own Oppressors”, released earlier this year as an impressive looking split 7” with London’s Lifeguard. The intro is lifted straight out of an ’80s power ballad handbook, but gives over to a pounding rhythm section and Andrew Wilson howling “Gotta keep those bridges burning”.

With Wilson’s eloquent call of “I want it all”, it’s clear that Die! Die! Die! don’t really give a shit what you think of them. But before you make an opinion based on their recorded material, check them out live. As the man with the microphone himself says in a previous interview, “You’re in a band to play live, not to record”.

Steven Edson