Somewhere between the rock and roll of the White Stripes, the distorted two-beat fuzz of Nine Inch Nails' last album "The Slip," and the cadences of the Gorillaz lies the "No Sleep" EP from upstart Australian power duo DZ Deathrays.
Now, let's not get carried away too early. While the EP contains elements, that doesn't mean it is equal to the sum of all of them. Rather, the DZ Deathrays pick and choose their moments on this five-cut sampling of their talent
"Gebbie Street," the song on the EP with what sounds like the most unapologetic Australian title, like so many other rhythmic rock songs, expertly uses the gradual descending scale in the breakdown to create an indelible sense of "cool." Rock and roll has always held this trick as its ace in the hole, and the band funnels it through the channel of bristling noise.
Almost like an interpretation of some kind of odd synthesis of Andrew WK and the Ramones, "Blue Blood" rampages across the listeners' speakers, exemplifying the brand of gleefully nonsensical party rock that DZ Deathrays started out in. There's a clarification needed on that last point, lest the song seem like some kind of brainless tripe in the vein of mass-produced, soulless corporate rock. Rather, the song is nonsensical as light-hearted rock should be; soaked in distortion, loud, brash and unconcerned with cerebral themes.
The EP comes to a pinnacle with "Teeth," and one hopes that this is the clearest example of what the DZ Deathrays eventual album will sound most like. The song possesses a swaggering, easy charm, with a beat that skillfully treads the rocky territory between "insistent" and "overbearing."
Those things being said, this is too small a sample size to truly allow for a definition of the band's talent, but the five-cut "No Sleep" EP offers a glimpse of what this band truly can do. What would have been nice to see is some variety and depth of field. The DZ Deathrays have only shown us one facet of their ability, and while accomplished, that facet does leave things to be desired; the vocal performance is shout-y and uneven, and the fuzz can too easily cover shortcomings in the overall craft.
I am looking forward to the band's full-length debut to see what of their promise blossoms into form. Like a draft pick at the combine, the DZ Deathrays measurables are evident and beyond reproach. But their intangibles have yet to be tested. I have tempered but high hopes.