Dead Poet Society are rock’s next breakout band, a decade into their career
After forming in 2013, fans of Dead Poet Society had to wait eight long years for the band’s first full-length album, -!-. Luckily, they didn’t leave such a large gap this time around, returning just over two years later with sophomore effort, FISSION.
It is intriguing to see a band who has been around for over a decade be poised as rock’s next great breakout act, but it does make sense with them only being two albums into their career. And the long wait may have worked to their advantage – they have spent this time defining and perfecting their sound through a variety of EPs over the years.
It also feels like they have held off on releasing full-length projects until they have been sure that they have something important to say. The riffs that kick the album off at the start of opening track, ‘5:29:45’, are the sound of a band who mean business; the song is a two-minute mission statement that sets out what they are about to do over the 12 tracks that follow.
FISSION is a 13-track study of personal change and the turbulence of growth that, as frontman Jack Underkofler attests, takes “a microscopic and broad look at the events that changed who we are.” Ultimately, he says the band has one mission for fans and listeners of the new album: “We want to leave them with the truth.”
One of the album’s strengths is the ordering of the track list; it’s impossible to become bored or lose focus when no two tracks that are positioned next to each other sound the same. The more upbeat, pop-driven ‘Running In Circles’ follows the opening cut, a tune which is destined for widespread mainstream success; you can picture it being played on radio stations alongside the likes of Royal Blood and Nothing But Thieves.
Within the first five minutes, Dead Poet Society have provided a hard-hitting rock track and a radio-friendly pop-rock tune back to back, showcasing the vast variety of their sound. They flip between the two styles throughout FISSION, leaning more into the pop or rock genre depending on what each song requires to best communicate its message.
Towards the end of the first half of the album, the twinned singles ‘How could I love you?’ and ‘I hope you hate me.’follow directly after one another, with the latter seeming to serve as a second part to the former. Built around a pair of grooving basslines, the Royal Blood influence shines through most strongly on this pair of tracks.
Soon after, Underkofler’s voice soars to the top of his range on highlight track ‘Uto’, before becoming much softer on the following cut ‘Tipping Point’, a slower track which is a welcome change in pace at the halfway point of the record. The momentum isn’t lost, though – ‘LA Queen’, a track driven by its drum beat, raises the energy straight back up.
Dead Poet Society doesn’t allow any filler to slip through the cracks here – each track has purpose and intention, and the listening order allows this to be heard loud and clear. FISSION demonstrates that Dead Poet Society deserves the same respect that other artists who fall within the same genre have come to receive over the years.
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Dead Poet Society’s second album, FISSION, is out tomorrow, 26th January, via Spinefarm.