DREDG – The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion (2009)

dredg - The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion With The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion, dredg have crafted one hell of a musical anomaly; at once massively uncommercial and startlingly attractive, they’re practically daring you take sides on an album in which there are no clear sides to take. In a way, it’s commendable that the band managed to not only define this weird, atypical tightrope, but also to have the conviction to walk it for sixty minutes. Considering that dredg were poised to (but never actually did) explode into the mainstream with their previous album, 2005’s Catch Without Arms, makes this all the more confounding. Perhaps The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion was initially conceived as a “fuck you” parting gift for their former label, Interscope Records. Or maybe the band really did feel the need to make a concept album based on the Salmon Rushdie essay, A Letter To The Sixth Billionth Citizen (a fact that isn’t too far-fetched, given the band have previously dealt conceptually with sleep paralysis and desert penguins in past albums). Regardless, none of this makes The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion any easier to swallow. But the real question is, does it hurt going down? (insert Alanis Morriesette joke here).

It doesn’t. But you’d be forgiven if you initially thought it did. See, if you step back from the bizarrely structured songs, the life-as-thesis-statement lyrics, the dense atmosphere and the odd flow of it all, it’s actually a great record. Not their best, but certainly their most interesting. Again, I give credit to the band for stepping more towards art-rock as opposed to more away from it, because we now can hear The Killers-esque space rock (Information) and postage-themed interludes (the various Stamps of Origin) on the same album. That should give you an idea of what’s in store for you here.

It was never impossible for dredg to make an album like this, and you can definitely tell that it’s a dredg album while listening to it, so they’re not really sacrificing their identity as an ensemble here. But it doesn’t top El Cielo as far as heady concepts are concerned, and it doesn’t top Leitmotif for sheer rock prowess. But should it? I mean, it doesn’t, but is this really stuff I should be focusing on? I’ve listened to the album about five times since purchasing it yesterday, and I’m having a really tough time breaking it down in my mind, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. Suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a top 40 album that could just as easily be filed in an esoteric progressive rock collection, well, look no further. dredg have you covered. Seriously. Check the stamps.

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