Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Die! Die! Die! ‘Crystal’

Die Die Die

Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like to see reviewed next time around.


[Grade: 5.4]

Stephen Clover: Did I die die die and go to comedy heaven!? Isn’t this just like a noise-pop version of a Prodigy song? [2]

Oliver Carle:Die! Die! Die! and ‘Crystal’ are not my usual cup of tea. I like grindy guitar tones, I like big anthemic drums, I like manic vocals. Actually now that I think about it I guess Die! Die! Die! are my cup of tea. I really like this song but I almost want to say I liked it better when Interpol did it. The earlier stuff I’ve heard from this band has been mostly really trippy and aggressive rock and this is much more of a dozy pace for them. While this direction is definitely something I would be more likely to listen to regularly it still misses the mark for me – even if only by inches. The guitar work in ‘Crystal’ is sublime and the vocals over the chorus are really satisfying. I can imagine it would be a pretty awesome experience live, but this recording it feels like it didn’t quite capture that energy and it’s missing that thing that makes me hit play over and over. [6]

Nick Raven: This is typical Die Die Die. Now on their second album with Micheal Logie on bass, they’re getting comfortable.

Not that this isn’t a good song but I was hoping they would push themselves and come up with something new and exciting. It’s just the same thing they’ve been doing for the last 10 years. ‘Crystal’ sounds good but it doesn’t have anything to make me shake in my seat. Its just standard Die! Die! Die! in automatic. [5]

Gavin Coughlan: I remember seeing these guys live many years ago and being impressed enough to pick up their first album (I also recall being impressed that it was produced by none other than Steve Albini). I was a little disappointed by that studio effort, and, in my mind, it wasn’t until they released Form four years later that they started producing songs worthy of their live presence.

This single sounds like it could have sat comfortably on that album, so I am hoping their upcoming LP matches it in quality. I discovered whilst reviewing the song that the marks I awarded it rose each time I turned the volume up a notch or two, so if you going to play it try to play it loud. [8]

Andrew B. White: I seemed to have missed the fan boat when it comes to Die! Die! Die! Back in the early 2000s and the whole ‘Flying Nun Jr’ scene kind of passed over my head. To be fair, these guys were young, and you do at that age, had obviously discovered the legacy of music that had come before. They (closely) interpreted it in their own way and introduced a new audience to the sound while presumably gaining fans who’d experienced it first time around.

For me personally, this sort of continuation of the ‘Dunedin sound’ wasn’t particularly appealing and while the likes of Die! Die! Die! were critically applauded it just wasn’t my bag. Fast forward 11 years later and here they are still doing their thing. Obviously they have enough fans and/or drive to keep themselves going for that long. As far as ‘Crystal’ is concerned it is very much a Bailterspace song. In fact if you swapped vocals for Alister Parker it would fit right in on a Bailterspace album. That’s no bad thing and I’m not saying Die! Die! Die! are little more than ‘copyists’; they are essentially flag bearers of this type of sound and they do it adequately. No doubt there are (excuse the pun) die-hard fans and champions of the band that will be able to dissect this song and offer a myriad of serious rock’n’roll angles on it. My interest in this song lies more in its sonics. The drums, bass and guitars all sound great and I especially like the snare sound. Unfortunately there are no credits on the Bandcamp link so I can’t mention who was involved in the recording, mixing and mastering which is a shame as they did a good job here. [6]

Eden Bradfield: Die! Die! Die! (insert joke about Eastern-european folk music here, you know- die, die, die, dee-da-die). I always found the chaps from Die! Die! Die! a bit up their own asses, convinced their brand of noisy music was better than all the other brands of noisy music. Granted, I encountered them at the height of their NZ success and this is what everyone was telling them. Then they released maybe one or two albums that were not particularly noisy and more melodic and the general mood was “oh! this is not so great!” This is better than that!

At about 0.55 comes in a slogan-melody (something about crystal? eh) and that’s pretty great. I wish the whole song was that, over and over. That’d get a 10/10 in the number-system, and then the chirpy lads could pat themselves on the back and know they’d finally Made It. As it is, it’s repeated for about half the song (5 points), plus legacy points based on their gross productivity per GDP (1 point), factoring in a disappointing last album and the losses incurred (-1) brings us to a final score of [5]

Alex Lyall: I loved that second half of ‘Harmony’, the title track from the 2012 album, where the pace slowed down and that sluggish moody bass came in and the vocals were all happy like the rain just stopped and it was sunny again. ‘Crystal’ borrows these features well, it sounds good but the obvious lack of energy blocks focus. The chorus is gripping but the riff that holds it is too polite for me to remember. I don’t get the point of this song. [4]

Luke Oram: The Dunedin Sound, is, in a way, one of our most prized musical exports. I have to admit I haven’t been too plugged into it, ignorant North Islander and all that. I remember having an almost-religious epiphany in a poky little bar in New York a few years ago, where Dimmer and The Clean put on one of the most magical shows I’ve ever seen.

Funny thing is, the place was full of this switched on indie crowd who were literally following The Clean around. They had disciples, their sound was world-renowned.

What I love the most about bands like Die! Die! Die! and the aesthetic of their sound, along with the Dunedin sound is that it’s the subtleties that are the most beautiful – the melody that sits just underneath the fuzzed-out guitars.

I dig ‘Crystal’ – I love how they’ve added ‘Noise Pop’ as a tag on their Bandcamp page; that’s exactly what ‘Crystal’ is. Andrew Wilson’s got a beautiful knack for a good, subtle harmony, and, as the fuzzed-out guitars take you back to Bailterspace-era. It sounds like the new album’s gonna be a great progression from Harmony. [7]

One Comment

  1. Luke Jacobs says:

    Still a great live band but they really do need to add something to their sound or it’s going to get stale pretty soon. I think they need to strip it back and go to being as raw as their live sound is.

    I saw them last year(?) in Hamilton with about 8 people there, despite that they put in an energetic show. If they can capture that it’ll all be worth it.

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