After taking four years to let their sound season with the help of regular touring and new releases, there’s no question listening to Goodbye Love that Dirty Fences have arrived and are ready to take over the world. It’s really easy to chart the band’s development between their debut album, Too High To Kross, and their sophomore effort, Full Tramp. This time out everything the band has toyed with on their previous releases shines through clearly and brightly here: classic punk rock styling with touches of Ramones, MC5 and Red Kross are set as keystones in album’s construct, and they sound better than ever here. But, even more importantly, Dirty Fences play better and tighter than ever before.
Simply said, Dirty Fences flaunt the confidence which comes with experience on Goodbye Love, and the “live wire” disposition of these songs can instantly – INSTANTLY – win fans to this band’s banner.
From the moment “All You Need Is A Number” starts the album’s runtime with a crash and a flourish (yes, at the same time), listeners will be held utterly in awe. Right from the beginning, bassist Max Camaskey, guitarist Max Roseglass and singer/guitarist Jack Daves summon the sort of infectious mix of “long-songs-played-quickly” punk and gutsy rhythm n’ blues with which the MC5 were known for kicking out the jams and throw it hard and straight at listeners’ collective sternum – it threatens to knock the wind out of the unwary.
In this case, the vinyl pressing surpasses its digital download counterpart for equalization: the bass in the download doesn’t just swallow all the low end in the mix, it makes the mid-range muddy too.
After that, “All You Need Is A Number” doesn’t pause once for effect or to let listeners focus/make sense of what they’re hearing – it just slashes through like the rush which comes from taking really good amphetamines and then rides along on that velocity. On first play, listeners will be stunned; it will definitely take more than one trip through the song to really get a sense of what just hit them. The second or third time through reveals the glory of lyrics like “Set fire to the page for the sound it makes/ Tell the kids that all it takes are the right mistakes,” but the power of the sound will inspire several listens anyway. Anybody who loved/has missed the all-out abandon and expression-first requirement of punk rock as it was when it first appeared in the mid-seventies will be sold on this album already – hook, line and sinker.
As the A-side of “Goodbye Love” continues, listeners will actually be able to feel their addiction to Dirty Fences grow as each successive track crashes through. “911” recalls the days of calling in when a fan is aching to hear his/her favorite song on the radio before “Dance” counts the band in with some feigned Noo Yawk hubris (Dirty Fences are actually from Boston – but they don’t sound like it) identical to that of Joey Ramone. And then the album’s title track, “Teen Angel” and “Never Over” each take their turn blazing through before the the needle lifts and the album’s side wants changing. The tempo and tenor of that assault is incredible and those who run through it will find themselves starry-eyed from the exertion.
After they’ve hurriedly flipped the record over, listeners will discover that there really isn’t even the slightest divergence from the style that Dirty Fences presented by the A-side of Goodbye Love– it’s just more of the glorious same.
Particular standouts like “I Don’t Sleep At Night” (which actually gets a little closer to Ramones-y energy levels by amping up the power and condensing the song down to one minute and forty-seven seconds in duration), “Love For Higher” (which boldly allows religion into its subjective scope – a thing which hasn’t really been present since The Replacements swung it in the Eighties) and “Message From Anyone” all keep the energy up as the same levels that the A-side featured as well as coyly overturning a few sacred cows – simply because the band has the will to do so.
In listening, those who have already been won will find each just another hearty chunk of ambrosia to love.
At the album’s close, Phillie punk singer Christina Halladay (who fronts Sheer Mag) steps into the mix of “One More Step” to steal the mike from Jack Daves for one well-crafted verse before the band closes up shop and the stylus lifts.
In that end, Dirty Fences leaves those listeners who have run front-to-back through Goodbye Love with them glowing. They’ll be absolutely beaming from the experience of this album because, with Goodbye Love, Dirty Fences have proven that it may have taken a while, but the time is finally right for punk rock to take over the world again. Goodbye Love is where the whole thing starts fresh – get ready for another Year Zero, reader.
Goodbye Love is out now on Greenway Records: greenwayrecords.storenvy.com/products/21333209-dirty-fences-goodbye-love.