With Ben Fox’s poetic narratives up front, the remaining four members of Toronto’s Dinosaur Bones collapse into a diminutive figure. Even at his emotive heights, the frontman rarely strains, as if delivering his tales to an inebriated stranger at the end of the bar. The chilling instrumentals that serve as the sonic backdrop for the group’s sophomore LP, Shaky Dream, lurk on the underside of the mix, awaiting their turn to dominate the scene.
The depressed melodies and battered electronics of “Pacifist in Camouflage” further the band’s Radiohead-leaning disposition seen on 2011’s debut LP My Divider; however, their post-rock palette has strengthened to include everything from the fiercely stripped-down rock of two-piece Local H to the spiraling ambiance of Explosions in the Sky.
Set against Fox’s insecurities, the newfound confidence of bassist Branko Scekic, keyboardist David Wickland, drummer Lucas Fredette, and guitarist Josh Byrne creates a depth in texture that the five-piece may not have thought possible on their debut.”‘Don’t choose/ no, don’t decide/ it’ll work itself out/ and I’ll be here,” Fox sings to a jilted lover on “Don’t Decide”. As the dialogue concludes, the anxiety portrayed in his vocals transitions into a murky guitar arrangement amplifying the uncertainties of this failing romance. On “Career Criminal”, a curtain is draped over a majority of the band at onset; opening with a raw drum beat and fuzzy rhythm guitar, Fox’s distorted croons exist under a magnifying glass. Then, three minutes in, the curtain drops and the track explodes into a flurry of guitar affects.
Just recently reaching their five-year milestone as a band, Dinosaur Bones have solidified their ability to weave talented instrumentalists through the voids of Fox’s lyrical sorrow without falling into the trap of indie pop redundancy. As the band’s familiarity with each other and themselves grows, the power behind Fox’s vocal presence will hopefully continue to develop and allow the other members more room to experiment.
Essential Tracks: “Pacifist in Camouflage”, “Career Criminal”, and “Don’t Decide”