We Dan Black’s fans are a patient bunch. Just a mere eight years after his debut solo album ‘UN’ and the king of wonky pop drops the follow up ‘Do Not Revenge’ this week. So full disclosure, ‘UN’ is one of my all time favourite albums. So many I’m not really the best person to write an unbiased review. But sometimes that can be a bad thing. When you love an album so much, it’s often difficult to follow it up, especially when the teenage has been so long in between albums to build up expectations. So I’m going to try and write this review without a bother mention of the debut, and look at this collection if songs on its own merit. Never once will I compare a song to one grim it’s predecessor. Since the album release was announced, Black has been slowly releasing tracks from the album, each with its own video through husband website and social media. So there was a lot of stuff I’d already heard. The tagine to the album is twelve songs/twelve experiences. So I’m going to do something else in this review that I wouldn’t normally do; write it track by track. So here goes.
What a way to start the new album. Black has his very own sound, both vocally and through his lyrics and production. This has the classic Dan Black ‘wonky pop’ sound. It’s an upbeat, catchy pop song that’s also cool as fuck. As you would expect.
This is where things get crazy. The mental electronic backdrop makes this track an instant hit, and one of the most interesting production pieces on the album.
Spitting out lyrics at his usual alarming rate, ‘Blow’ keeps up the pace delivering another killer dance track.
When Black released ‘Hearts’, his first collab with coolest-woman-in R&B Kelis, I started to salivate a little thinking this was the big comeback we fans had been waiting for. But then a couple more years passed and still no album. So it only seems right that they do a brand new track together for the album. It was the second single to be released from and excited me just as much as their first collab. It’s a euphoric ballad with a beat that really showcases both artists.
As well as creating fantastic pop and dance tracks, Mr Black is also a king of the ballads, and not afraid to expose husband more sensitive side. This is a prime example of a more emotive artist amongst the bigger dance tracks.
With the lyrics ‘I’ve been living in my headphones far too long’ it makes me wonder if this was about Black’s lengthy journey into creating this album. Seems like the perfect first single, and sounds great on the album too.
We Drift On
Fresh from her One Love Manchester appearance, the legend that is Imogen Heap graces the album. Not two artists I would have ever put together, but it really works. Complete with hand claps throughout, ‘We Drift On’ is beautiful and melodic track.
Ur the 1
Using more traditional instruments such as guitars and string arrangements, Ur the 1 is probably the most conventional pop song on the album.
Probably the track I’ve bonded with the least. Sounds like the only filler on the album, but that could all change with a few more listens.
As it stands my favourite track from the album, although I’m sure that will change several times as I get to know it better. It is dramatic and dark synth track, with added laser gun effects. Perfect for a movie soundtrack.
Ballad of Player1 up
This song is so enchanting. Without doubt the most melancholy track of his career so far, expressing sadness through the medium of computer games. Probably my favourite track lyrically on the album, with the line ‘no more lives, no more tries, player one, you are done.’
With its driving baseline and heavy synths, Zoo ends album number two in style.
Pop music is not traditionally a particularly ‘cool’ genre. But Dan Black has done again what he did on his first album, in making a credible and we’ll produced pop album. It works very much on two levels. It sounds great musically, but dig deeper and all the songs are lyrically clever, well put together, but more than anything else very current. It’s taken longer than fans would have ever expected, but in ‘Do Not Revenge’ Dan Black has produced the album we all hoped for.