Dredg’s first album in four years, “The Pariah, The Parrot and The Delusion,” is the first since their debut to be recorded without the supervision of a record label and the pressure to deliver a “hit” single, and it shows. Reverting more to the structure of their sophomore/break-through album, “El Cielo,” while retaining the knack for writing conventional songs that they fine-tuned on “Catch Without Arms,” Dredg may have very well made both their most ambitious and most accessible effort to date.
For Dredg, it’s all about moving forward, which means no more 20 minute long interludes/instrumentals but also, no restraint. As good as “Catch Without Arms” was, it was all too obvious that they were holding back, thanks to being on a major label and still being relatively young in their career. With the maturity and freedom they have finally attained on “The Pariah, The Parrot and The Delusion,” the California foursome leave no sonic stone unturned. A band truly in love with the art of making music, they will explore and expand whenever and wherever they can. If it means writing a “bumping,” radio-friendly single with a hip-hop beat (“Saviour”), then so be it. If it means peppering your album with bizarre interludes like “R U O K?” that feature digitized vocals or “Long Days and Vague Clues,” which could easily serve as the score for a Tim Burton flick, then that works too. The bluesy “Lightswitch” or the more modern-rock-ish “I Don’t Know” help off-set the balance, but it’s the sleek and cool R&B of “Mourning This Mourning” that best sums up Dredg’s adventurous nature and their ability to make just plain good music. What really stands out here, though, is the fact that Dredg are no longer confined to being just an “art-rock” band, nor are they held back by catering to a mainstream that they will likely never fit into anyways.
The songs are great, and the musicianship is top shelf. It’s every bit as experimental as you expect Dredg to be, while being every bit as cathartic and emotional too. Four albums in and over eleven years in the game, they show no sign of slowing down and have yet to sacrifice a shred of credibility. Longtime fans will rejoice at somewhat of a return to form for the band, while those late-comers who prefer a slightly easier-to-swallow sound will no doubt be enlightened by all “The Pariah, The Parrot and The Delusion” has to offer. If you have made it to the end of my review and you still aren’t convinced, take my word for it: This is the best album you’ll hear all year.