BEST BEHAVIOR, marks a noticeable change in direction for DINOWALRUS. In contrast to their eclectic, confrontational and cryptic debut % (Kanine Records), this sophomore effort features a meticulous attention to song-structure, production and listenability—an experiment in pushing their interests in krautrock, house music, post-punk and psychedelic rock into their most condensed, vocal-driven, danceable, hooky and coherent form, without losing the unique mad-cap ambience and instrumental playfulness of their debut.
Starting with the punchy opening staccato organ stabs of “The Gift Shop”, it is clear that BEST BEHAVIOR is a sprightly album expressing the subtle optimism of DINOWALRUS finding direction and focus, and also the energy brought about by new band-mates and collaborators. BEST BEHAVIOR is meticulously written, but not over-thought and over-conceptualized: a welcoming point of entry into the band’s unique psychedelic world and historical roadmap. This is DINOWALRUS on its best behavior.
While the band’s approach has evolved greatly as a result of their stylistic and personnel changes, their musical DNA has remained the same— the band used the exact same palette of analog synth, guitar, sampler, drum machine (and occasionally sax) sounds in making this album. While their noise-y debut drew inspiration from the feral urban excitement of early 80s NYC no-wave dance music, with BEST BEHAVIOR, DINOWALRUS turns the clock forward and nicks a few tricks and beats from the early 90s acid house phenomenon that swept the UK, finding new crossovers between psychedelic rock and dance music; reopening a strange, fun and vibrant chapter in music history that never quite reached American shores: Madchester.
Thus DINOWALRUS draws heavily on the druggy party beats, bass grooves, bongos and organ textures of The Happy Mondays, Charlatans, and the Stone Roses; but also retains their essential spacey Hawkwind, Eno, Bowie, Can and Sonic Youth allusions on the deeper album cuts. Mid-period New Order plays a significant influence as well. With Primal Scream’s Screamadelica hitting its 20 year anniversary, now is an especially good time for an American band to attempt bring rock and rave together again. And New York, often thought of as America’s most cosmopolitan and European city culturally, is the perfect environment for a band like DINOWALRUS to be making such a unique appropriation of all things Manchester, Glasgow, Berlin and Ibiza–giving Brooklyn indie kids a new beat with which to dance.
In a contemporary context, BEST BEHAVIOR mediates nicely between the futuristic psychedelic synth-pop of Gang Gang Dance, Teengirl Fantasy, and Neon Indian, and the tried-and-true Anglophilic jangle-rock of Wild Nothing and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. BEST BEHAVIOR was recorded in Brooklyn 2010 and 2011 with Nadim Issa and Matt Walsh (The Forms), and features the drumming of the Depreciation Guild’s Anton Hochheim, plus a brief cameo vocal appearance from longtime friend Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus on “What Now”. Remix work was done by Philly house mainstays Pink Skull, and Jez Kerr from 80s Manchester Factory Records post-punk legends A Certain Ratio.