Whether you know it or not, we've all likely experienced the uncanny valley. It's that creeping feeling when something seems normal, but is just off enough that it becomes deeply upsetting on a fundamental level. This concept is something the Dismemberment Plan play with on their fifth album, Uncanney Valley. Their first recording since the band dissolved in 2003, the album finds them returning with a sound that feels sort of like the old Dismemberment Plan...but different. The sound still has plenty of the angular grooves that we've all come to know and love, but there's a different mood on the album. Rather than nervy and isolated, this re-formed version of the band feels like they've got things more sorted out, replacing the uncertainty that marked albums like Emergency & I with a more carefree vibe. The change is one that makes sense, though. With the bandmembers a decade older and more settled into their lives, their stakes in making the album were a lot lower, affording them the opportunity to relax and have fun rather than sing for their supper with every note. Although Uncanney Valley sounds unmistakably like a Dismemberment Plan album, the change in tone can be off-putting. Were it any other band, it would be easy to attribute this to them simply losing a few steps as they've gotten older. But with a band like the Dismemberment Plan, whose acerbic tendencies run so deeply, the move feels like a calculated one, giving them the chance to make an album that shows both how they've changed and how they've remained the same.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney
feat: United States Army Band