Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You
Locating the sweet spot between rock and club music
Sometimes it really is all in the name. "Does It Offend You Yeah?" — a line originally spoken by Ricky Gervais in the original UK version of The Office — seems so unwieldy and so laden with sarcasm that the band connected to it couldn't possibly be serious about what they do. Add to that the fact their initial emergence was tied in the press to "new rave," which was itself a mainly ironic genre name coined as a joke by one of Klaxons. It made the whole project feel like a prank, which is a shame, because DIOYY? are much more than that: They're the rare band who can locate the sweet spot between rock and club music.
On their second album they take their original formula — essentially the aggressive disco of later Daft Punk, Erol Alkan DJ sets and mid-2000s Ed Banger records as played by a no-nonsense indie-rock band — and turned everything up a few notches. The sound has been clearly honed over hundreds of live shows: The relentless synth-punk beats, shredding guitars and occasional belches of dubstep wobble reek of sweat and the snare drums jab you like random jutting elbows in a mosh pit; the dynamics are geared towards the next surge of barely-controlled violence. The vibe throughout is anguished, defiant, cathartic. Samples of anti-establishment preachers from films and the news are interspersed with James Rushent's pained vocals, to create something that's not exactly emotionally nuanced, but which makes a virtue of its bluntness. It forgoes the finer details in favor of a straight-ahead expression of frustration and the urge to be heard.
Inevitably, attempts at subtlety tend to fail. When the distortion is turned down and the juddering electronics are reined in for "Pull Out My Insides" and "Wrong Time Wrong Planet," the group's lack of songwriting sophistication is exposed, and Rushent's inability to tone down his vocal style grates. It all feels a bit standard indie, which is a shame, because the grandiose closing ballad "Broken Arms" — which builds up to stadium levels of intensity — shows DIOYY are capable of ambition outside their standard disco-punk template. Nonetheless, disco-punk is what they're good at, and the remainder of the album sticks to that and delivers it brilliantly.