The Dirty Nil are not a subtle band. Since the release of their previous album, 2018’s Master Volume, they have proudly blasted out thunderous hard rock riffs with the speed and spirit of a garage punk band. Underpinned by frontman Luke Bentham and his tender yet funny lyrics that betray his tough-guy, hollered vocals. Their newest release, the boldly titled Fuck Art, finds the band perfecting their raucous sound into a soaring collage of fist-in-the-air party anthems.
All guns are blazing from the start with opening track ‘Doom Boy’, an adorably dorky ode to a metalhead couple with appropriately thrashing guitars. The beauty of the hooky chorus is quickly vanquished by Bentham’s throttled chords in the verse. Its hard to resist the allure of Bentham’s adolescent calls to hold hands and “listen to Slayer in the back of my Dodge Caravan”.
‘Blunt Force Concussion’ feels like a very natural continuation with its chunky rhythm that recalls The Cars or Cheap Trick. The Nil also start to reveal a new element to their sound, the increased presence of bassist Ross Miller.
His playing is much more prominent in the mix than on Master Volume, providing a comfy bed of low-end rumble for Bentham’s shrill guitar to dance on top of. He also belts out some truly joyous harmonies alongside Bentham on the choruses.
Its not all young love and raging riffs though. For the first time, the band attempts some more introspective lyrics and blends them well amongst the happier songs. ‘Hang Yer Moon’ is a sombre reflection on ones own self worth and a warning to potential partners. There is none of that trademarked Dirty Nil humour. It is a frank and sobering track.
On ‘Elvis ‘77’, the band gets more anthemic with the emotions, repeatedly screaming “why didn’t you call your mama more?”. The lyrics are held aloft by an almighty chorus melody that reminds me of the all-time great karaoke tearjerkers like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. This one is begging to be sung by a big group of friends in a bar with their arms linked and their free hands holding beers in triumph.
However, when the band want to cut loose, they do it with effortless, swaggering style. ‘Possession’ is classic power pop turned up to 11 with a catchy, trilling guitar riff and yet another singalong gang vocal.
The Nil also flex their metal chops on ‘Ride or Die’. A barnburner of a track with a palm muted bridge that sounds straight out of a classic Metallica song. The outro riff also sounds like a reworking of the ending to ‘Ace of Spades’ which I suspect is not just a coincidence.
The band finish everything off with ‘One More and the Bill’. The lyrics invite you to forget your personal problems and take solace in life’s small comforts. The earnest tone and slower tempo make the song feel like a proper comedown. A neat closing chapter to this raucous good time.
Fuck Art is a tough record to pick holes in. At a tight 35 minutes, it knocks the front door off its hinges, blows your eardrums out and runs away laughing. The Dirty Nil have crafted a sterling collection of lovable instant classic songs. This album is barely two weeks old and I already have competing songs stuck in my head. A peppy blast of positive energy to kickstart the year.
Words by Sam Bullock
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