Review: D.I.D – The State We’re In

Natalia Bus feels the weight of D.I.D's long-awaited second album

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“This is heavyweight, this is heavyweight” assures Rob Milton’s voice on ‘Flush’, the first single released off the Nottingham-based D.I.D’s sophomore album. It serves as a fitting warning for a collection of tracks telling of the band’s struggles to come of age in the last four years since their debut, All Our Favourite Stories. D.I.D certainly still tell stories through their music, but these are much darker and more personal than those heard on their previous feel-good indie tracks, which attracted fans with sugared hooks and jangly melodies.

The album mingles Rob and co.’s loss of innocence with a sometimes-humorous, sometimes-grievous cynicism, as is conveyed in the fast pace and immediacy of the opening ‘Fast Food’, the chorus of which is steeped in disillusionment with modern-day relationships: “All we do is eat fast food/ All we do is fool around/ All we do it means nothing, nothing”. Melodic and energetic tunes like the latter are contrasted with much slower and “heavyweight” laments about a sense of uncertainty or failure in the everyday, rendering the long-play a balanced diet of bouncing around and serious contemplation.

‘Big Lie’ is a model example of how a song should build in both sound and emotion until a brief release, which soon fades away into the next track. The acapella start jerks the listener into attention and adds layer upon layer of subtle synths and harmonies which only bolster Rob’s echoing vocals that pierce to the very core with accusation.

The resentment felt in ‘Big Lie’ is really driven home in the edgy and anger-fuelled heavy guitar riffs of ‘Hotel’. The forceful, almost Queen-esque harmonies and dramatic electric guitars are poignantly undercut in the much gentler chorus which asserts “Solitude arrives like a guest in a hotel/ When she ups and leaves for the devil in the detail”. The instrumental that follows will have crowds come away bruised, sweaty, and fulfilled after moshing violently at live shows.

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A vast number of songs on this return album have a darkness and immediacy to them that surprise previous listeners of D.I.D’s teen-friendly indie-pop. This is not to say that the five-piece has become an entirely different band in the last four years, instead, their sound has grown and matured into more than light-hearted musings over a time when they were clearly toiling to do the same in their private lives.