Direct Hit! – Domesplitter (album)
After my ambivalence toward the slick melodic sounds of Half-Hearted Hero, it’s refreshing to be able to write about something with which I can whole-heartedly engage. Ladies and gentlemen, Direct Hit!
They’re a band I’ve written about a few times before, namely in the form of their splits with the adorable Mixtapes and the something-or-other Tit Patrol (who I also liked, but can now remember little of). With Domesplitter, which I think is their first full-length, Direct Hit! haven’t moved in a new direction, so my previous comments on what they do still pretty much stand. They rock hard and fast and they do the anthemic melodic punk thing well.
The question, then, is does their schtick work when spread over a full ten tracks? A secondary question is how the hell did I fail to notice before that pretty much all of their songs appear to be inspired by b-movie cheese? The respective answers are ‘yes’ and ‘because I am a fucking thicksicle’.
So anyhow, with the opening 3-minutes-feels-like-2 tune ‘Snickers or Reese’s (Pick up the Pieces)’ (possibly the only song that does not involve, I don’t know, spaceships or werewolves or something) you get the idea pretty quickly. It’s catchy, it’s fast-paced, and the band are flipping between two vocalists quickly which lends their songs a lyrical pace and drive that single vocalists can only occasionally manage*. It certainly helps that the vox manage to strike a fine balance between their forcefulness and retaining a clarity and adherence to melody.
Elsewhere you get lines like “we’re aligning planets / That’s how you call Cthulhu” (‘Satan Says’) which is endearingly fun even now that the Cthulhu mythos has been mined for internet memes to the point of banality, alongside the band’s catchphrase “fuck you, get pumped!” Which, with any other style of music, might get annoying, but here just leaves me wishing I was at whatever parties these dudes are at.
Then there’s ’We Are Alone’ you’d be forgiven for initially thinking it was some kind of sweet, endearing love song. Well, it sort of is, except: “We leave the bodies by the water / they’re the guards that we kill / and we’ll be screaming bloody murder from the top of the hill”. It’s the perfect love song for fans of horror and Natural Born Killers!
‘We Are Alone’ – this one sounds potentially a bit sweet. Oh, but the singer is in a cell? Haha, it’s a kind of love song about escaping from prison. Awesome. “We leave the bodies by the water / they’re the guards that we kill / and we’ll be screaming bloody murder from the top of the hill”. Nice. Something to do with Natural Born Killers maybe?
There are less subversively cute moments, too. ’In Orbit’, a generally ace tune, throws out the whimsical chorus “Just me and you / and a small robot crew / with tea for two / in the orbit of the moon”. Idiotically simple, some might say before returning to their post-rock, but you and I know that such lyrics are sweet, naive, retro, touching, cosy and convey a sense of childlike adventure all at the same time, like playing spaceships with cardboard boxes and imagination as a kid. It’s probably one of my favourite songs here.
It seems to me that present-day Ramonescore greats Teenage Bottlerocket have been keeping quiet of late, and if like me you rue this I strongly recommend getting some Direct Hit! in your life. The bands aren’t directly comparable, and Direct Hit! prefer to inject their songs with a few more fills, licks and flourishes than the Bottlerocket’s generally purist approach, but in terms of punk rock that is immediate, anthemic and all about some kind of good time you really cannot go wrong.
Split your dome, get pumped.
* If I am remembering incorrectly from the video I saw a while back, and Direct Hit! have just the one singer, and this effect is actually the product of studio track overlays, then Direct Hit! are dirty cheaters. But they still rock.