The Dismemberment Plan

Emergency & I

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

The band's third full album is a firecracker, showing their at once passionate and sly approach to music -- take in everything, put it back out, and give it its own particular sheen and spin -- is in no danger of letting up. Knowing fans of the quartet have spoken on how it's clear that the bandmembers listen to everything from old soul to hip-hop and techno and back again, and there's no argument here based on the evidence of this disc. Travis Morrison's unusual vocals make a brilliant calling card for the band, high, a touch quavery, but never out of control, slipping into the mix like another instrument. Though the comparisons to fellow D.C. musical figure Craig Wedren are understandable, Morrison's voice isn't as piercing, with a warm, light undertow that's quite affecting. When he hits his best moments, like the downright anthemic but never breast-beating "What Do You Want Me to Say?," it's a wonder more people aren't talking about the guy. The rest of the band turn the indie rock stereotype on its head, avoiding aimless shambling jangle or emo's straightjacketing stereotype in favor of an unsettled mix that embraces sampling's jump-cut techniques and shifting rhythms where prominence is equally given to guitar, keyboards, and beat. It can be late-night jazzy mood-out or sudden thrash, but the quartet handles all approaches with aplomb and creative arrangements to boot. Drummer Joe Easley may be the band's secret weapon, able to keep the pace and swing just enough, though bassist Eric Axelson is by no means a slouch himself -- the dub-touched "Spider in the Snow" is a great showcase for both. The fact that "You Are Invited" is conceivably the world's greatest synth-pop/electro/guitar chime/post-punk song about trying to get to the right party -- and is emotional without being overwrought -- gives a sense as to this album's considerable strengths.

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