The Great Dictators


Written by: LF on 31/05/2015 18:08:01

The Danish indie rock band The Great Dictators released their debut record "Liars" in February 2014 and already now, about a year later, they're ready with a follow-up called "Killers". The band was originally formed as a trio, but they seem to work as a sort of collective and currently feature up to six members in total when they play live. Their music is a kind of experimental indie rock with heavy folk tendencies, that makes use of piano and a brass section on top of a more regular guitar-bass-drums setup, and their sound is very low-key but somehow at the same time very intense. This is expressed just as much through the compositions of the songs as in the varying use of different instruments and the underplayed execution of the soft, dark vocals.

There's a good diversity across the record and the smooth songs are filled with interesting progressions and little details that keep them interesting for several listens. It's a dark record with some serious subject matter in the lyrics but it succeeds in delivering these with a very relaxed approach, giving the listener an ominous feeling that each song is hiding something just beneath its surface. This gets more evident the further we are spun into the web of the record but to begin with, we are eased in with spacey harmonies in "Holy Creatures" before a steadfast rhythm picks us up and sends us swirling into the dark universe of the album with the intro lines of "I can hear the apocalypse coming" setting the stage. This track is one of the darker and subtly aggressive pieces of the album along with "Vote for Me" and not least the hypnotic "Baby Skull Ring" which is one of the highlights overall. It features some smooth saxophone notes that really set a kind of melancholic film noir mood together with the dark soundscape of the song and it ends suddenly with screams and whispers that have an almost demonic quality to them in combination with the dissonant elements in the music.

Another track that stands out on the album is "Strange Ways" which is definitely the most upbeat, catchy and positive-sounding of the songs here. The accompanying trippy music video that features both Putin as a dancing doll and their lead singer as Jesus on the cross connects very well visually with the lyrics that keep circling around religion or politics across the album, ultimately poking fun at or criticizing both institutions. Generally though, the songs that make up the bulk of the album are calmer and more straightforward like "Heathens", "We Don't Have Sound" or "Shame" but these songs are no less interesting for that, as the sheer amount of different instruments that are used in them provide such a variety of sounds that there's always some new detail to take note of.

"In the Name of the Father" is another remarkable song here as it changes character entirely for a while in the middle when the haunting saxophone makes an appearance again on top of an eerie collage of sounds while the title of the song is chanted over it all. The ability of some of the songs to surprise the listener like this is exactly what gives the entire record a mystical air of not being quite what it seems, no matter how well you think you know it. This makes for a solid album that can be played pleasantly in the background but can also keep you interested for more concentrated listens and I definitely recommend checking it out.


Download: Strange Ways, Baby Skull Ring, In the Name of the Father, Vote for Me
For The Fans Of: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The National, Leonard Cohen

Release date 13.04.2015
Royal Toad Records

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