The Dwarves: Concept Album

If there’s a “concept” to be found on The DwarvesConcept Album, it’s that the band doesn’t stick to one genre for long. Instead, the San Francisco punks bring an atypically clean sound to twenty otherwise filthy songs that range from disparate genres including: pop punk, garage rock, hardcore, pop rock, hard rock, and retro rock and roll. The songs are kept relatively short with only the album’s last song breaking the three-minute mark, and that ephemerality is part of Concept Album’s charm.

After “Blast On”, a goofy opening track that offers up a jumbled numeric countdown, singer Blag Dahlia and company launch into “Feeling Great”. Over a catchy chord structure and peppy oohs and ahs, Dhalia sings about feeling great despite lines like, “someone to love, someone to hate, nobody loves me, I masturbate.” The album’s next three songs, “Voodoo”, “Terrorist” and “Ages Ago”, take a four-and-a-half-minute detour into hardcore before the album’s next stylistic shift.

“Dead To Me” is a duet with an uncredited female singer that finds The Dwarves successfully pulling off an upbeat garage rock number complete with handclaps, an analog organ, and some excellent guitar work. “Nobody And Me” turns Concept Album toward hard rock before launching back into hardcore with “Everyone Squirts”, a song in which Dahlia borrows lyrically from the Solomon Burke number “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, replacing the word “love” with “fuck”.

Side B opens with the album’s heaviest song, the self-congratulatory “You Lose We Win”. Over a wicked speed metal riff, Dahlia and the band sing, “yeah you know you love The Dwarves, blood and guts and dope and speed and whores, yeah you can’t handle our life of sin, fuck you, you lose, we win!” As if to throw more chaos into the sequence, the band follows “You Lose We Win” by downshifting into the happy, retro-tastic “Parasite”, a track which rounds us back to the instrumentation and garage stylings the band used so successfully on “Nobody And Me”. Here, it works equally well.

“We Will Dare” is another male/female duet, this one sounding like a punk rock response to the 1983 country crossover hit “Islands in the Stream”. Concept Album’s last three songs find The Dwarves pulling out all the stops as they launch first into the creepy “Sixteen”, then the forty-three second darkly funny “Stabbed My Dad” and, finally, the record’s (comparatively) epic closer, “All For You”. All told, Concept Album is a fun ride. The music’s great, the lyrics are entertaining, and the genre-jumping keeps things interesting. If this is the last album The Dwarves ever make, it’s not a bad one to go out on.

Rating: 7.8/10

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