Diarrhea Planet Turn to Gold
Published Jun 08, 2016The Nashville garage-rock sextet with one of the worst band names in the business broke out in 2013 with I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, as fans and critics alike took a liking to the band's endearing sense of fun and exorbitance that added sizzle to their thoughtful and studious songwriting.
Combining fuzzy alt-rock like Japandroids, over-the-top flair like KISS, roaring heavy metal like Motörhead and poppy punk like the Ramones, the band regretfully known as Diarrhea Planet are now a growing force owing to their talent and lively spirit. It's easy to forget that Diarrhea Planet were, and in many ways still are, based on a running joke — for better and for worse.
Turn to Gold is far and away more shiny — no pun intended, seriously — than the band has ever been. Look no further than "Hard Style," with epic twin guitars and marching-band drumming you probably haven't heard since the Top Gun theme. "Announcement" is just about guaranteed to raise your pulse with its lightning-bolt guitar licks, as singer Jordan Smith belts out huge hooks with Bon Jovi-esque bluster amid its massive choruses. Exquisite guitar work (attributable to no less than four guitarists) is most evident on "Bob Dylan's Grandma," a bouncy punk tune with delicate passages that offset its driving pace.
But while those songs and a few others — like the dreamy "Lie Down," the sweetly catchy "Dune," or the ambitious finale "Headband," which shifts gears from Billy Idol to Monster Truck to Nothing over the course of its eight minutes — stand out, Diarrhea Planet have perhaps ladled a too-heavy dose of goofiness into their formula, and it could end up reducing a promising underground favourite into a cheap novelty.
Take "Ain't a Sin to Win," a quick and dirty hot-rod rocker about a Hell's Angels biker who dies and then races God in heaven, or "Hot Topic," a good enough tune until two-thirds of the way in, when it suddenly careens into banshee screams, blast-beats and a Pantera-style breakdown that seem to be a humorous ode to their heavier influences. These might be entertaining, but they're a big part of the kitsch that undermines the band's quality sing-along tunes like "Life Pass."
Diarrhea Planet's self-indulgence and cheesy grandiosity might be less appealing if it wasn't so tongue-in-cheek — that's a huge advantage of being a band that doesn't take itself all that seriously. It also makes Turn to Gold a boisterous and joyful affair. But reaching these new levels of gaudiness, they risk being written off as a gimmick. (Dine Alone)