So it looks like The Dirty Nil might be becoming successful. When their debut Higher Power was released last year, a snotty, snarky piece of garage-punk excellence, few would’ve thought that things would blossom beyond that, and that the band would be another gem consigned to the underground and ignored by everyone else. Yet winning Breakthrough Artist Of The Year at the 2017 Juno Awards (essentially the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) has made the future of the trio a particularly exciting one, if only for the potential that it holds.
As such, their current moment in the spotlight has been capitalised upon with the release of Minimum R&B, not a new album but a compilation of tracks from their early EPs and 7″s. Not that you can really tell though, as apart from a track like New Flesh with its loose screams and jerky, noise-rock guitars that can sound like a different band entirely, this could easily be the companion piece to Higher Power that it was evidently supposed to be. At the centre of most of these songs is the same wit and attitude that was such a defining factor of their debut, and for what is essentially a collection of rarities, that’s saying something. Granted, not a whole lot of evolution has taken place when putting these songs in context with Higher Power, but tracks like Cinnamon and Beat are the sort of formidably raw, well-written songs this band are quickly becoming known for, and Verona Lung and Love Is A Stone bring their ever-succinct grunge influences to the fore, which is always a nice touch.
In fact, seeing this album as a collection of odds and ends is virtually inconsequential, as Minimum R&B is strong enough on its own to stand as simply a new batch of Dirty Nil tracks. Luke Bentham still manages to dominate with his switch-up between drawn-out screams and a quintessentially ’90s slacker drawl, and although closer Caroline does drag a bit longer than necessary, the likes of Fuckin’ Up Young and Cinnamon are kept remarkably concise without feel too tight or constrained, and powered by the scuzzy guitar tone that can set teeth rattling at its heaviest.
Still, despite how well Minimum R&B stands on its own, especially for a rarities collection, it all feels largely inessential. It’s definitely a stopgap to tide any new hangers-on before their sophomore effort proper, but even so, it’s an impressive little package all the same. For some more of the same by a band who are currently on the up in a major way, Minimum R&B is pretty much guaranteed to satisfy.
For fans of: Pup, Meat Wave, Beach Slang
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Minimum R&B’ by The Dirty Nil is released on 28th April on Dine Alone Records.