We last heard from Dinosaur Feathers back in 2010. The band’s debut LP, Fantasy Memorial, was a good—but not great—piece of Brooklyn bubblegum, featuring sunny vocals and laid-back dance jams. It’s a familiar sound, capitalized upon by everyone from the Ruby Suns to Tanlines, so for the past two years, many have lost Dinosaur Feathers in the mercurial tides of indie. With its latest release, Whistle Tips, though, the band has set out to change that, to establish a musical niche in that sweetest of spots that hinges between tribute and trial-and-error.
The first thing you’ll notice is that the drums sound more insistent, more kicking, more alive. That’s true on a literal level: The band’s drum machine has been replaced by Nick Brooks, a guy who’s not afraid to switch from hard jams to more dance-based stuff with astonishing speed. “Beatcha,” for example, is a total killer, with Brooks’s drumming stealing the spotlight from shouting vocals and raucous guitars. The instrumentation is rawer and grittier this time around, and the crunch helps to flesh out the sun-washed beats. There are also twists, such as the sudden shape-shift from vintage pop to hard prog-rock on “Certain Times” and the oscillating riffs of “Untrue.” These changes help to keep otherwise same-y beach pop from veering into snoozy waters.
The list of influences at play in Whistle Tips includes such names as XTC, the Olivia Tremor Control, and Wings. The common thread connecting this inspirational palette is pop; Dinosaur Feathers is a band very much concerned with a hook, be it wrapped up in Thin Lizzy glitter in “Pillars” or Kevin Barnes-style hysterics on “Your Move.” But perhaps the biggest inspiration is the Beach Boys: The soaring soprano chords and earnest melodies here are very Wilson-esque.