For better and for worse, Eleven Eleven sounds exactly like the kind of album one would expect a band called Dinosaur Pile Up to release. Admirably enthusiastic, vaguely scuzzy, and yet ultimately fairly one note, it’s a grinding collection of choruses and gnarled guitar solos stitched together into an enjoyable yet vague whole.
The album’s best tracks are those that most fully embrace the band’s pop-punk roots. Grim Valentine, for example, is choked with soaring, sing-along choruses and vocal work that, at its most slick and controlled, brings to mind the slick singing style of bands from the earliest days of the scuzz-pop revolution of the early 2000’s.
Bad Penny and Anxiety Trip prove to be a lot of fun too, and in their extremity find a kind of uneasy brilliance. They are tracks that do nothing by halves, and their excess is precisely what makes them so appealing. Dinosaur Pile Up might not be in the process of re-inventing the wheel, but they nonetheless seem to take a great deal of pleasure from sticking to the genre they share with their musical heroes.
The record does begin to feel fairly bereft after a while however, and its pleasures are best taken in small doses. By the time a track like the Nirvana indebted Crystalline has done its thing, one is left with very little to take away, and the joys to be found in the record’s latter half are very fleeting indeed.
But don’t confuse such criticisms with a condemnation of the entire record. As cheesy, excessive, and overwrought as Eleven Eleven might be, it’s a good time even when it doesn’t quite work, and the band’s piss and spit attitude does inspire some genuine awe. Even though this is a party that ends in tears, Eleven Eleven is fun while it lasts.