- Audio CD (October 23, 2001)
- Original Release Date: 2001
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Desoto
- ASIN: B00005QJG6
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,509 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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The Dismemberment Plan may be associated with the DC punk and emo-core scenes, but with their layered keyboards (three-quarters of the members contribute) they are never what you expect. The uninitiated might take exception to singer Travis Morrison's voice, but his nerdy charm, lyrics, and falsetto tend to take hold, as legions of devoted fans will attest. Some might wish DP would remake 1999's Emergency and I; instead, they enlisted Emergency's knob-twiddler, J. Robbins (Jawbox) and expanded their songwriting. Tons of vibrant noise is thrown down and the rhythm section deserves particular kudos. In many ways DP are more jazz than rock at this point. But the sonic spectrum is so wide that the songs never sound crowded. Continuing the tradition of peppering puzzle-like structures with disparate influences (hip-hop, funk, punk, new wave), Change--though thoroughly modern--evokes some good bits from the '80s. There's a bit of the Police (drumming by Joe Easley), U2 (Edge-like rattle and treble-kick guitar), and Talking Heads (quirky, African-sounding rhythms), but it's all mixed with a buzzing excitement, an electricity that hasn't burned out but increased in voltage. --Cyndi Elliott
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Top Customer Reviews
It looks as if The Emergency & I is going to go down as The `Plan's magnum opus. Change is an excellent album, but it just doesn't compare to its predecessor; and that was a goddamn kick in the teeth at an end to a disappointing year.
So Change took a bit of getting used to. If it wasn't from The Dismemberment Plan it would have been much more accessible. The album sticks to its title, and if it weren't for the nearly perfect time changes and Travis Morrison's irreplaceable vocals (which easily place as best of the year) this could have been passed off as a new Desoto group.
Many a critic wrote this disc off before even giving it a fair shot. Just because, as NME puts it, "It's not nearly as catchy as (their) earlier works." That's true. It's not as catchy as their earlier works, it's not as zany, and it's not as manic. But Morrison's incredible lyrical prowess is even more open to express itself in the `Plan's new, more confined setting. The eerie accuracy in which events are described (especially when describing a lady friend getting sucked into the clouds in "The Face of the Earth") and the plain, non overly descript emotions of "Super Powers" and "Secret Curse" are so powerful yet free from pretense that they ring in the mind almost like Greek Poetry.
The calm spirit of the album makes its emotional bits (the few that there are) even more powerful. The desperate screams in "Time Bomb" are enough to make you drop whatever your doing and pay attention, the dreary isolation of the album's ending track "Ellen and Ben" zooms out in a manner that's certain to leave even the most angry among us (i.e. myself) wistful.
The keyboard is no longer the band's chief weapon of attack; it's now confined to main lines and backgrounds rather than the zooms and effects we were used to. The guitars of Morrison and Jason Caddel still play together almost magically but without the blipping keyboard lead we were all used to. This method works pretty darned well in "Pay For the Piano," which sounds almost like something off their first two albums and "The Other Side," a pretty little distortion track. But the keyboards are noticeably missed in the Flaming Lipsesque opener "Sentimental Man" and "Following Through" which drones on a simple chord progression for nearly a minute and a half before breaking into a poorly synced vocal.
Probably the best track on this album, and the only track that is keyboard dominated is the closer "Ellen and Ben." The lyrics would fit better in The Emergency & I; very descriptive with seemingly light subject matter that becomes, upon repeated listens, so true and heart-felt that they are just about as emotional as you can get. A bass lead with keyboard plinks in between lyrics and a zoom synth taking us to different emotional peaks.
The Dismemberment Plan really cemented themselves as one of the very best bands in the world with this album, even if it's not their best.
record has invoked the album's title to discuss the earth-shattering shift
that it represents away from the band's old sound. I find this quite
amusing, partly because I'm just amused at how much artists can shape
critical response to a record just by their choice of title, but mostly
because I doubt most reviewers would have harped on that aspect of the
release if it hadn't been for the title.
First of all, the elements that make the Plan one of the most distinctive
bands around are still firmly intact - clever, chiming guitar work;
complex and methodical but funky drumming; and head Planner Travis
Morrison's unmistakable dry, deliberate delivery. Certainly, there are
distinguishable differences between this and their last effort, 1999's
universally (and rightly) lauded "Emergency & I." For instance (as has
been most often commented on), this one is slightly mellower - that is,
nothing here verges on unlistenable the way "Emergency's" weakest link
"I Love a Magician" did.
Also, there's nothing as glorious and cathartic as "The City" or as
inane-yet-beautiful as "You Are Invited." And, arguably, this release
definitely finds the Plan continuing to distance themselves from their
brash and raucous early work (epitomized by "!," whose title is
unfortunately not pronounced as a Bantu click). But so what - what's so
mind-blowing about a group evolving their sound? It used to be, in the
days of Talking Heads, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and even Led
Zeppelin (all of whose influence, incidentally, is apparent on this album),
that nearly every album an artist released would involve some distinct
So if "Change" is not noteworthy in that respect, then what does it have
to recommend it? Well, there are some dandy songs: the chiming,
propulsive opener "Sentimental Plan," the majestic and driving "Time
Bomb," the fast and funky "The Other Side." Morrison's lyrics continue to
be delightfully literate and often abstruse ("I'm an old-testament type of
guy/I like my coffee black/and my parole denied"). The band continues
to demonstrate deft musicianship, smartly upholding the proud tradition
of intelligent guitar bands in a world that has all but forsaken them. I was
excited, when I first heard it, at the thought that it would prove
everybody wrong and show that a band like this can continue to improve
even as they edge gradually towards a maturity beyond their "mature
masterpiece." But, sadly, this record, as good as it is, doesn't live up to
the standard of excellence set by "Emergency." And I can't help but think
that that failure comes not simply from the quality of the songs, but from
the dissolution of some of the rough edges of the last record - rough
edges which, come to think of it, are perfectly described in its title.