Album review: The Dirty Nil – Free Rein To Passions

Ontario punks The Dirty Nil’s fourth record packs a playful punch…

Album review: The Dirty Nil – Free Rein To Passions
Aliya Chaudhry

This song is a pledge of allegiance to the banner of human joy,’ The Dirty Nil’s Luke Bentham sings on the title-track of Free Rein To Passions, summing up its outlook. On their fourth full-length, The Dirty Nil (thankfully) maintain their commitment to not taking things seriously with lyrics like, ‘It ain’t arson if it’s ours to burn’ from shockingly autobiographical Blowin’ Up Things In The Woods.

The band’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics are undercut with an awareness of how harsh reality is (take, for instance, the all-too-relatable Stupid Jobs line, ‘this whole working for you ain’t working for me’). In spite of that, The Dirty Nil stand by their belief that the solution is to be positive in the face of difficulty – literally. ‘’Cause if the powers that be/ Dropped a bomb on you and me,/ I’m going to sing with a big old grin/ ‘What a beautiful goddamn ride it’s been,’’ Luke sings on Free Rein To Passions.

That message is reinforced by the performances on the record, which would have felt outlandish if not for their complete conviction and sincerity. Luke’s vocals are powerful, often full-force, and he switches it up to different styles from the growly delivery on aggressive opener Celebration to the more relaxed tone of sunny Undefeated. The guitar parts are equally dynamic. Undefeated’s solo is delightfully over-the-top. Celebration briefly trades in crunchy electric for lighter acoustic guitar towards the end. Turnstile-esque Free Rein To Passions is built around a bouncy riff.

That variation doesn’t always serve them, though. Album closer The Light The Void And Everything doesn’t quite fit in with the previous nine tracks, veering towards the melodramatic and cliché – without adding anything to the album’s message lyrically – and ending the record on a low note.

Elsewhere, Free Rein To Passions strikes a balance between joking around and being vulnerable – it embodies the thinking that sometimes laughing at life is the best option, and it’ll have listeners smiling and screaming along too.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Weezer, Drug Church, Turnstile

Free Rein To Passions is released on May 26 via Dine Alone

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