Criminally underrated Canadian trio The Dirty Nil are back with their third absolute rager in a row, and if they’re not playing significantly larger venues by the end of this album cycle then we’ve failed them and not the other way around. Following on from 2018’s Master Volume, which saw them scale up the sweat-drenched intensity of their debut to arena-worthy proportions without losing an ounce of authenticity or grit, the lads have opted to refine, and quite possibly perfect, this formula. Balancing anthemic stadium rock, snot-nosed punk defiance, indie scrappiness and the all-out adrenaline rush of thrash metal whilst drenching the whole lot in a bucketload of style, Fuck Art cements the Nil as one of the absolute best rock bands doing it right now.
The songwriting craft on display here is outstanding, yet the whole record has a laconic, laid-back sensibility to it that makes you feel as if it all could have come together in a single jam session with the aid of a few beers. Whether its the vocal melodies, catchy enough in a few cases to give Billie Joe Armstrong and Rivers Cuomo in their 90's heydays a run for their money, the drum fills or the multitude of insta-hit licks and solos, the whole thing is dripping with immense amounts of cool and a pervasive sense of fun. Lead single 'Done With Drugs' provides a good summation of what the album is about, but you’d be hard pressed to find a weak track anywhere in the mix.
But all of this had been done before on the album’s predecessor, what really impresses this time around is the breadth of influence. Metal makes an appearance here like never before, second single 'Doom Boy' had already laid the groundwork with aplomb, kicking off with a killer thrash riff and transitioning bafflingly smoothly into 90's power-pop and back again (shoutout bassist Ross Miller who proves to be a dab hand at screamed vocals). It’s 'Ride or Die' that winds up being the metallic highlight of the effort though and will leave the listener smiling from ear-to-ear throughout, if they weren’t already.
One of the real achievements here is that the record has the potential to appeal to such a wide audience without compromising in the least bit. The guitar tone is satisfyingly raw and the rhythm section thunders along with reckless abandon, consciously eschewing the over-processed, toothless approach of the legions of cookie-cutter soundalike pop-punk bands falling off the conveyor belt every other week.
Confident, swaggering and expertly crafted from start to finish, with this album The Dirty Nil eat alive practically all of their contemporaries, not to mention anything the current crop of stadium rock bands have put out in the last decade. The perfect antidote to a dreadful year and hopefully the rallying cry to kick off a much better one, Fuck Art is the a celebration of everything that is exciting about rock music. Confident, swaggering and expertly crafted, this album eats alive practically all of the Nil’s contemporaries, not to mention anything the current crop of stadium rock bands have put out in the last decade.