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Pill - "The Dull Tools Tapes" | Album Review


by Jonathan Bannister (@j_utah)

“Privilege is like a warm body that loves you.” Like a harbinger of doom, Pill’s first EP arrived back in March of 2015. They tried to tell us. But who could blame us? We had eight years of Obama and we felt sure we were headed in the right direction. We chose to ignore the rot beneath. Then came their second EP in June of last year but instead of a defeatist or told you so attitude Pill declared “We take strength where order fails.” And so, with all that’s happened since even then, now is as good a time as any to refill your prescription as Dull Tools is releasing both EPs together and on vinyl for the first time as The Dull Tools Tapes.

Pill’s music is unsettling, anxious, and frantic. Our cultural climate in musical form with a vibe like the club scene in Lost Highway. The bass provides the hook and foundation, the bass is us in our natural habitat. Enter the saxophone, full of chaos. In your face, confronting you with its manic drive to make noise. The saxophone is that inner rage and turmoil wanting to be released, the lyrical content in musical form. The drums and guitar soundtrack the interplay between the two. The drums, giving the listener something to latch on to, something that can be moved to lest we go insane from the chaos. The guitar almost gets lost in the sound as it sometimes follows the bass and sometimes the saxophone. 

Frustration permeates every fiber of their music. Nothing ever feels resolved. The music is insistent. It wants to let the listener know that everyone has been found wanting in some area. In a song off their full length, Pill tells us “A story retold and refashioned, There is no resolution, only revolution, in the collected memories of our bodies.” A mission statement if there’s one to be found. Kill the past because this tale being told has no suitable end but to be rebelled against and to make way for a new story being told. Across the two tapes Pill raises more questions than provides answers. The band is rooting around, kicking over tables, pulling up the carpet, showing the listener that parts that need to be cut out from within and directing them towards what we should all be asking if we wish to chart a new course. Some of the questions that are asked include: “Isn’t it incredible that two people could find themselves amidst so much ruin and so much wrong?” “Oh, you wanna touch me where?” “Are you keeping my feelings and my body safe?” “Are you willing to submit beyond your sense of self?” “Is that all there is?” “What would you do? Object the image?” Well, what about it? Are you willing?

Pill is rarely an easy listen but they’re always a vital listen. It’s music you can move to, while never checking out. They’re a band that is needed now more than ever.