The cover of this album illustrates what Matt Bigland might have thought Dinosaur Pile-Up would end up doing on their second album. Flat on their faces they ain’t though; instead, they are kicking and screaming. This album would actually be better suited to the title of their debut: Growing Pains.
Where the first album was full of slacker fun, Nature/Nurture has a slightly more direct and serious approach. Well, okay, not super-serious but serious enough for a band hailing from Leeds who sounded like a Seattle post-grunge band.
After being labelled a Foo Fighters rip off (could be worse couldn’t it?), there’s now a more diverse range of 90s and 00s rock influences in the band’s musical undercurrents. Ash, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Vines, Nine Black Alps and Weezer are all in attendance. ‘White T-Shirt and Jeans’ sounds like it belongs on Weezer’s Red Album with its dorkish observations and melodically harmonised chorus.
Elsewhere ‘Arizona Waiting’, ‘Start Again’ and standout track ‘The Way We Came’ show there is a bundle of energy and creativity at the heart of the band which is so pure and lacking in self-consciousness, you want to punch all other bands in the face. “Let’s go back the way came/ The way we made a pact to stay the same/ Don’t lose your way” is sung with such pleading that you know it’s born of experience.
Bigland’s vocals have evolved on this album as well as the lyrics. He sounds more nasally and higher in pitch. This is neither a detracting feature or disastrous sound-wise. In fact, it adds a slightly punkier edge to everything. ‘Draw a Line’ is the perfect example of this, edging away from Dave Grohl but keeping the ethos the same.
The riffs are big but never overshadow the songs themselves. It’s both a blessing and a curse, as radio airtime won’t come in spades until they hit their ‘Everlong’ or ‘One by One’. There are no bad tracks here, just less-kick-ass ones.
Growing Pains was a pleasant surprise for anyone thirsting for some straight forward rock, and the follow-up is clearly working on that same vein of feeling. Rather than a sprint forward, this album should be viewed as a brisk walk, gently increasing the incline on the machine. All Bigland needs to do is not fall on his face and not hit the button marked ‘stadium’.