Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Dizzy Mizz Lizzy
Forward In Reverse
Written by: TL on 16/05/2016 14:54:24
In the imaginary hall of fame for Danish music, there would be few greater names inscribed than Dizzy Mizz Lizzy. Volbeat may very well be making the rounds currently, as our country's greatest export success saleswise, but there can be no doubt that Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, with their albums from '94 and '96, added songs to the Danish songbook that will be among its most cherished for generations.
Like so many mythical bands, however, they were there, they were great and then they were gone, with singer/guitarist Tim Christensen moving ahead solo in '98, forging a successful career and having hits with a number of softer ballads, while bassist Martin Nielsen and drummer Søren Friis returned to working as a postman and truck driver respectively. In the age of reunions, though, even Dizzy Mizz Lizz could not stay separate, as was first proven with various nostalgia shows played in Denmark and Japan in '09 and '10, and now, after 20 years since their last material, we have the group back with a long-awaited third album, "Forward In Reverse", which the band says they've been working on secretly for years. Considering that "Dizzy Mizz Lizzy" from '94 holds the title as the most sold Danish rock album in history then, expectations have naturally been high for the now grown men's return to the musical landscape. Yet in many ways, "Forward In Reverse" delivers exactly what you would expect, both in terms of quality and style. The choice of title is very matter of factly, as the record indeed plunges the affectionately called 'Dizzy forward, while mainly looking to the past for inspiration.
If there's a knock on the record then, it is that it does fairly little to cement a signature Dizzy sound, instead focusing on cherry-picking elements and approaches from rock tradition, combining and updating them for the 2016 landscape. Yet this exactly makes the record a treat for anyone who loves a bit of rock where instruments sound like actual instruments, and Denmark's go-to producer for heavy music, Jacob Hansen, has helped the group make things sound extremely crisp and delicious without ever straying from their concept of 'One guitar, one bass and a drummer - that's really all it takes'.
After the romp of the boldly chosen instrumental opener "Phlying Pharaoh" - which channels classic prog à la Led Zeppelin - it arguably takes a couple of tracks; the soaringly melodic "Forward In Reverse" and the laid back and groovy "Terrified In Paradise"; before we arrive at where Dizzy prove that they're not back to be 'just solid', they are in fact back to kick some ass and show the contemporary Danish rock scene how to do things. Here "Brainless" grinds ahead with a chunky verse riff that sounds like something Slash could've put on a G'n'R record back in the good days, and while the lyrics are perhaps a little 'Grown Man's Captain Hindsight' the composition leaves nothing to be desired. This here is a hit song, plain and simple, and the first of a handful on the album.
"Something So Familiar" follows more in the style of Christensen's mellow solo material while seemingly tipping the hat to The Police, giving a nice breather before "Love At Second Sight", which reintroduces chunkiness in the verses while keeping a proggy tone through a driving chorus that feels comparable to a classic Journey song like "Separate Ways". This combination is savoury indeed, yet the album's mid-section further climaxes with the single choice "Made To Believe" which contends with "Brainless" for the title of best song on the album. The guitar chords that prick the ear during the catchy chorus are brilliant, as are Christensen and Nielsen's playing off each other in general. Dizzy's success was always built on a firm grasp of the dynamic and melodious virtues that are essential in musicianship and this song especially displays it clearly for all to hear.
The thing is that what "Forward In Reverse" perhaps lacks in stylistic innovation, it makes up for partly in the confidence of its sequencing, opening with an instrumental banger, then putting off its main payoff for a couple of songs, then later serving up two more instrumentals in the mellow "Frey" and the brazenly titled, balls-to-the-walls Zeppelin-esque "Mindgasm". And while Dizzy draw inspiration from many 70s and 80s acts that have seemed outdated for a long time, they never seem as uncool as the countless classic rock dinosaurs and copyists in the music scene (both in Denmark and elsewhere), likely because Tim Christensen as a singer - while he does not have the most impressive registry - is not as aggravating and self-indulgent to listen to. Tim Christensen is no screeching Axl Rose or over-vocalising Myles Kennedy. He is not about impressing you with his vocal ability nor about convincing you that he's some charismatic rock star from a different world of hedonism.
This impression feels like a difference maker, as "Forward In Reverse" thrives on the kind of timeless instrumental charisma and swagger that has characterised rock music at its biggest, yet when it comes to performing the songs and putting emotion into them, the band lets the musical virtues do the talking and keep their personalities downplayed. Thich helps the listener just feel the songs and their content instead of wondering whether they think Dizzy Mizz Lizzy are cool people or not, and that's a wonderful property for a record to have. Combine this with the strength of the riffs, the choruses and the songwriting quality in general, and it all should merit squeezing a few more Dizzy pages into the national songbook in the future.
Download: Brainless, Made To Believe, I Would If I Could But I Can't, Love At Second Sight
For The Fans Of: Tim Christensen, Alter Bridge, Guns N' Roses, Journey
Release date 29.04.2016
Columbia / Sony Music Entertainment Denmark