If you’ve poked your head into the ever-revolving doors of rock music for more than a few minutes in the past two years, chances are you’ve heard something about The Dirty Nil. The Canadian rock outfit’s current resumé includes opening for The Who, touring with impressive names such as Alexisonfire, The Flatliners and Black Flag’s offshoot act Flag, and being named the Breakthrough Act of The Year at the Juno Awards in 2017. So, one might ask, what exactly is it about The Dirty Nil that makes them so special?
Their sophomore studio album, Master Volume, goes above and beyond answering such a question. Expertly produced while still managing to err on the right side of chaotic, a release as versatile as this would sound equally as at home in the sweaty piss-punk of pubs as it would in the concert halls built for the greats. Opening on the swaggering punk-rock of ‘That’s What Heaven Feels Like’, the record feels as though begins in medias res of a swashbuckling adventure: an all-guns-blazing, one-way-ticket kind of affair.
You could be forgiven for thinking the LP reaches its peak too early with the third track, you'd be wrong though. The desperate and unhinged ‘Pain Of Infinity’ is most definitely a highlight, but the records quality never plummets from here. There’s the vicious ‘Please, Please Me’, as well as the venom-spit lyrics of ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ (“I mean this in a nice way / Fuck you”), and the second-hand agony of ‘I Don’t Want That Phone Call’ – take your pick, as every track stands out from its predecessor. ‘Super 8’ laments the life of sleeping in shitty motels, and the curiously-named ‘Smoking is Magic’ is a straight up circle pitter from the first note. There’s no wrong move here; no track that pales in comparison to another.
Master Volume is an album that reeks of the burning rubber of a classic cross-country American road trip. It’s fast, genuine and sounds like rock’n’roll just got a kick up the arse. Surely, this will be launchpad from which The Dirty Nil spring from a promising breakthrough to an established talent. And godspeed to them.