In this age of computer-generated musical perfection, it’s refreshing to hear Sore – Dilly Dally‘s debut album. For the first time in what feels like forever, listeners are confronted by a female-fronted (both on vocals and guitar) outfit who is unafraid to have (and bare) some teeth and anger without trying to be cute about it as well as presenting their music exactly as it is (and not as it “could be” with the help of some digital refinishing): rough, raw and with the grain still apparent (a.k.a. it’s not sanded smooth).
Those who listen to Sore will be thrown completely off-balance as soon as the music starts and the volume and raw power of “Desire” hits them square between the eyes. As soon as that first track opens, singer/guitarist Katie Monks and guitarist Liz Bell steal a couple of pages from both The Pixies and Bikini Kill, and just turn the volume up so far that the alt-rock quiet verse/loud chorus dynamics which (theoretically) were intended to govern the song short circuit and overload. Such careless composition should amount to a train wreck – Monks already sounds like she’s blown her voice out when the song starts and Bell’s guitar tone sounds as though there are a couple of pinholes in the speaker of her amplifier – but “Desire” will win listeners by just rolling over them and knocking them silly. Throughout the song, they stand boldly and confidently and present themselves warts-and-all; it’s beautiful.
…Even better, not only is it beautiful but the band doesn’t lighten up or break stride as they continue through the ten songs which follow “Desire.” Standout tracks like “Snake Head,” “The Touch,” “Purple Rage,” “Get To You” and “Ice Cream” all just blast through with all the perfect, impersonal power of a force of nature while also working very personal themes of loneliness (“Ice Cream”), heartache (“Purple Rage”), love spurned (“Ballin Chain”) and the joys of just rocking the pants off a show (“Next Gold”) into the lyric sheets. The results are of a sort that it would be possible to get lost in for a week and not even mind the black eyes you take along the way because, every time the band members come together just right, the effect is a chime; a muscular, perfect and perfectly fetid and grimey assault which feels great to take, every time.
But how long can Dilly Dally keep this up? Part of the scruff and sludge which makes Sore so captivating is likely a result of the fact that Sore is the band’s first album and it was made as economically (cheaply) as possible; with more money would come a cleaner, nicer sound – presumably. We can hope that they don’t change too much too quickly though; if it all works out just right, Dilly Dally will have enough time to rip all of the delightful, clean and boring shit in pop apart and force it to start over and rebuild again – with themselves at the scene’s center, of course.