Dope Body

Natural History

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Dope Body's second album finds the Baltimore quartet doing the kind of thing that's both thoroughly expected -- young 21st century band plays around in decades' worth of noise possibilities, with particular focus on '80s indie efforts -- and gratifying, in that at their best the group puts all the pieces together pretty damn well. The opening "Shook" acts as a fine statement of intent in that regard, starting with what appear to be distant chimes as well as cut-up scraggly and big slow drums, even while singer Andrew Laumann acts more as a calm pronouncer of words than a shouting or shrieking dervish. But if they're starting to resemble anyone in particular, it's almost where the late lamented Brainiac left off, combining that band's ear for compressed, twisted hooks with a thorough appreciation of all that noise legacy. It's not a bad route to go at all, and on songs like "Weird Mirror," "Road Dog," and "Powder," they balance out those sides very well. On the flip side, though, some songs tend to drag or otherwise seem dully ugly rather than compellingly grotesque, as can surface on what sounds like fairly un-ironic post-hardcore braggadocio on "Beat." It makes Natural History something of a stop-start effort rather than an unqualified success, but if Dope Body can keep playing around with elements like the grinding, crackling hook of "Out of My Mind," it'll be interesting to see what a third album can bring.

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