THE DISMEMBERMENT PLAN Emergency & I (DeSoto)

The third album by Washington D.C.’s The Dismemberment Plan (a name culled from a throwaway line in the film “Groundhog Day”), “Emergency & I” received some drooling critical notices on release in 1999. Pitchfork’s 9.6/10 review, for example, read, in its entirety, "If you consider yourself a fan of groundbreaking pop, go out and buy this album right now. Now. Get up. Go." Course, the fact that I’m telling you this suggests “Emergency & I” didn’t create quite the culturequake it deserved to.

The Dismemberment Plan’s music sounds a bit like a sugar-coated Gang Of Four, with the awkward angularity softened with wit and dense, personal lyrics that are always worth reading. The witty, sardonic, alien’s-eye-view plotlines don’t always compensate for the music’s jerky aggression, but when everything locks in the results can be breathtaking and heartrending. There’s something about the likes of “Spider In The Snow”, marinated in vintage synth sounds, and “The City” that drills right to the heart of (what I imagine to be) the American (sub)urban Generation X experience, all McJobs and supervisors and trash collections, a procession of necessary mundanities that builds into a deeply affecting whole. Not far behind are the cheery electro party anthem “You Are Invited”, with its delicious anticipatory moments of build and release, the purposely frenetic, dizzying “Gyroscope” and the cartoon apocalypse of “8 Minutes”.

So, if you consider yourself a fan of groundbreaking pop, go out and by this album right now. It really is that startling and original, even eight years after the fact.

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