It’s an old saying that the hardest part about comedy is timing. Certainly the same is true about music. Timing and pacing manifest themselves in so many different ways, and the can work towards either augmenting or detracting from the quality of a song. The concept of pacing can be as simple as the time signature and tempo, or as excruciatingly meticulous as whether to use a double chorus or how long to hold a vocal note. When done correctly, a well measured track can force a listener to notice its deliberate choice of pacing without going so far as to bore them.
Shaky Dream, the second album from Toronto indie rock outfit Dinosaur Bones, demonstrates a maturity in pacing that can easily be taken for granted. The record is bookended by songs in three-four, a welcome variety in what is a usually four-four world, and begins with “Dreamer’s Song,” which fittingly asks, “Oh what’s the rush?” Textures also play a large role in the timing of the album. “Spins in Circles” starts with a thin arrangement, just bass and drums, before adding the winding major 7th sound of the guitar. Throughout the album single notes build into harmonies or waves of sound drop out into solos, but always in ways that feel natural and appropriate.
It’s probably for the best that Dinosaur Bones take their time. After all, the album exudes a gravity that borders on bleakness at times, not exactly a state of mind that should lend itself to rash decision making. The ennui-soaked anthem “Sleepsick” encourages “sleeping all day/hiding from the light outside,” while “Career Criminal”–with a chorus that itself borders on mugging–is dedicated to an unsustainable, hopeless life endeavor. Even “So Brand New,” with persistent, self-contained verses reminiscent of Vampire Weekend‘s “Taxi Cab,” is more about the fleeting feeling or freshness than reveling in a moment.
So Dinosaur Bones will take you on a ride, delivering you to the destination not a minute too early or late. Whether you want to be on a journey that finishes with the sentiment expressed on a track called “End of Life Crisis,” well that’s a whole different question.