It’s a blessing that The Dirty Nil didn’t choose to release ‘Fuck Art’ a day earlier. If they had, they’d have been single handedly responsible for ruining countless Top 20 lists, because it’s almost impossible to imagine there are many rock fans who wouldn’t love this record. No matter what else this year might bring, from a musical standpoint 2021 is off to an absolute ripper of a start.
The follow-up to 2018’s phenomenal Juno Award-nominated ‘Master Volume’, ‘Fuck Art’, sees The Dirty Nil hone their fun-loving blend of punk and classic rock, and cements their place as one of the most consistently brilliant rock bands on the planet. The Toronto three-piece’s ear for melodies and their sneering tongue in cheek attitude is a brilliant reminder of one basic fact; rock ‘n’ roll is meant to be fun. On that front, this record delivers by the bucket load. ‘Fuck Art’ is an absolute ray of sunshine that will no doubt be a comforting listen to rock fans across the world during the cold winter months.
The Dirty Nil have a proven track record of writing colossal choruses, so it’s no surprise that this album continues that trend. It is absolutely packed to the rafters with great choruses and great vocal hooks – some of them hit you instantly, others take a bit more time, however, once you’ve listened to the album a handful of times, every song will eventually get stuck in your head.
The album begins in suitably raucous fashion with ‘Doom Boy’, a staccato thrash riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Power Trip song, before giving way to a huge, straight-up rock song. As one of the lead singles from the album, it’s also one of its standout moments. Guitarist and vocalist Luke Bentham is on absolutely blistering form here, as he sings ‘we could listen to Slayer / in the back of my Dodge Caravan’ before dropping in ‘it’s my mom’s Dodge Caravan’ as a sneering aside.
‘Blunt Force Concussion’ and ‘Elvis ‘77’ are deceptive listens. While neither track gets stuck in your head immediately, over repeat listens they’ll slowly worm their way in, to the point where you’ll feel like you’ve known them forever. ‘Done With Drugs’ – released as a single in 2020 – is an absolute joy, with a massive chorus that’s tonnes of fun to sing along to. The lyrics are classic Bentham, as he reels off a list of things he’d like to do instead of getting wasted, tongue firmly planted in cheek, ‘maybe I’ll try origami or jujitsu / or walk around Ikea with you’.
‘Ride or Die’ is The Dirty Nil at the most brilliantly bombastic. The verses have a real rock and roll chug to them, while the song is topped off by a riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a thrash album. The song really encapsulates what is so brilliant about this band. They have a punk sense of urgency and attitude, while being completely unafraid to lean into other, less contemporary genres to create rock music that is absolutely joyous.
‘Hello Jealousy’ is a speedy, catchy number with more snotty punk attitude than you could shake a safety pin at. The chorus is one of the biggest and most instantaneous on the record, and there’s no doubt that this will sound absolutely huge live. ‘The Guy Who Stole My Bike’ contains some of the best lyrics on the record as Bentham fires barely veiled barbs at the bike thief such as ‘I hope it serves you well / I hope the brakes don’t seize / when you’re riding down the hill to hell’.
‘One More and the Bill’ is catchy, jubilant, and anthemic, or in other words, a perfect album closer. The song is built around a singalong moment that reads like a manifesto for self-care in 2021 as Bentham wails ‘Gonna smash my TV / smash my phone / leave politics alone’. After a year that has felt like one giant doom-scroll, singing along to this at the top of your voice is incredibly cathartic. Let’s hope The Dirty Nil can play live soon, because this song is going to sound absolutely phenomenal in a dingy club filled with fans, bellowing their lungs out while standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
If you’re already a Nil fan, chances are we don’t have to tell you that this album is worth your time. You’ll be there on day one regardless. If you’re not a fan, drop everything immediately, and go check out your new favourite band. ‘Fuck Art’ is the sound of a band nailing down their signature sound, and releasing an absolutely stellar record full of rock anthems in the process.