Drugs, fornication, depression, disturbing descriptions of death, immolation, gore, pediphilia, devil worship. And that’s just the first three songs.
Yes, The Dwarves are back. That band of gleeful scum punks with their bleak messages of all things offensive and inane. And like a fine wine that has spoiled and turned to vinegar, The Dwarves particular mix of overtly catchy pop punk and overtly disgusting content is on full display with their newest release The Dwarves Invented Rock & Roll.
I’ve been listening to The Dwarves on and off for over ten years. Ever since their 2000 release Come Clean came out on Epitaph Records and the song ‘Better Be Women’ appeared on the compilation Punk-O-Rama, Vol. 5. It was a somewhat deceitful introduction to the band. ‘Better Be Women’, while containing their now trademark mix of hardcore punk and pop sensibility, was also a silly song about making sure there would be girls at the party the narrator was attending. Picking up the album, on the other hand, with it’s anthems of rape, sodomy and murder, was a slightly more intense lyrical experience. But I’m used to The Dwarves now. And as often as I’m disgusted by them, I’m also intrigued. After all, rock & roll, and particularly punk rock & roll, was never meant to be a safe haven. Just ask The Sex Pistols.
On The Dwarves Invented… you get about half an album’s worth of angry hardcore punk and half an album’s worth of more poppy buzz saw punk. With a few of the songs, like album opener ‘Hate Rock’ straddling the line in between.
‘Hate Rock’ is, like many of the album’s tunes, a song who’s content is laid out in the title. If rock music doesn’t feature all things disgusting, The Dwarves (and guest vocalist Dexter Holland of The Offspring) don’t want anything to do with it.
A couple tracks later, ’Trailer Trash’ is a pop love song about someone falling love with a ‘nymphomatic fiend’ from a trailer park. It’s the catchiest song on the album and if not for its inventive sexuality, could easily be a song you wouldn’t bat an eye at being on the local rock radio.
‘Kings of the World’ with its opening line ‘hail you sons of satan’ is actually my favourite song on the album for its sheer razor sharp melody and killer hook in the chorus.
‘Sluts of the USA’ is another supremely catchy song about, well, being a slut of the USA. It’s got some great gang vocals by what I can only guess is a throng of blond bimbos.
‘Armageddon Party’ is about anticipated excitement at the end of everyone. It’s got another great hook in its chorus.
‘Fun To Try’ is about how fun it is to try everything, yes everything, at least once. It’s actually comparatively tame, lyrically, compared to the rest of the album. It’s sunny soundscape, with it’s Beach Boys hooks and surf guitar, make it one of the funnest songs on the album.
Elsewhere, the genuinely disturbing songs ‘Bleed Alright’, ‘Dead On the Floor’ (again, literally about finding a girl dead on the floor after a party), and ‘Get Up & Get High’ are examples of The Dwarves more straightforwardly aggressive side. In line with the kind of garage punk hardcore they were releasing at the beginning of their recording career.
The band is as good at these songs as they are at the poppy ones (although I prefer the poppier ones myself). It does however give the album a nice musical variety.
To say The Dwarves aren’t for everyone is an understatement. They’re like torture porn movies. They’re aimed at a particular audience who revel in the darkness they provide and to repel and even anger the rest of the masses is seen by the band as a compliment and a victory. But the great enigma of the band has always been that they are actually accomplished musicians with refined pop sensibilities. Which is a natural progression for a band who’s been together since the mid-80’s.
They do nothing new with Invented… but add another chapter to their scuzzy history. And while the album is typically short, with 15 songs blazing by in less than half an hour, it’s also filled with songs that will please fans. Newcomers? Well, if you like your steak rare, consider The Dwarves the equivalent of taking a bite out of a cow’s ass while it’s grazing peacefully in the fields.
4/5 Stars – Give the album a listen below and let us know what you thought of it in the comments!