The Designer’s Drugs: Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Anno: 2011

 

My initial response to Does It Offend You’s follow-up to its excellent debut, You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into, is that the new album is The Empire Strikes Back to its predecessor’s A New Hope. Whereas the band’s first album was a swashbuckling adventure through synthy pop rock, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You is a much darker record.  On it, Does It Offend You trades in good cheer for violent outbursts and harsh beats that border on Hulk Smash industrial.

Lest this darkness be mistakenly interpreted as a bad thing, consider that the most arresting tracks on this work tend to be the most furious.  The album’s best track is its opener, the punishing “We Are the Dead.”  While it features a few ravey sound clips, the song owes as much to KMDFM as it does to the KLF.

The manic songs tend to be the pockets of the album which eschew the singing of James Rushent in favor of vocal samples, guest singers, or nearly no words at all.  “Yeah!” is the closest the disc comes to a true instrumental, a robotic rally march fueled by spastic drumbeats and a cheering mob.  The big brassy menace of “Wondering” is complimented by the deft rhymes of guest vocalist Trip, who goes on about Batman and Bill Hicks.  The vocals of the bouncy “Wrestler” come entirely from a speech by pro wrestling cult figure Paul Heyman, brilliantly complimenting the rush of the music.  The strangest track on the album, “The Monkeys Are Coming,” features a YouTube clip in which a clearly disturbed man rants about drugs, monkeys, crap eating, and fellatio (in that counterproductive order).  Despite all expectations, it’s a brilliantly aggressive tune.

None of this is to say that Does It Offend You broke the knob off at smashy and shouty.  Though nothing on Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You is as bright as its predecessor, there are a few songs which turn down the violent gloom.  “Wrong Time Wrong Planet” is the zenith of the slow, a smooth electro-crooner where the constant basslines occasionally give way to fireworks.  The closing “Broken Arms” is practically a space ballad that, while it feels wholly out of place in the context of the album, is a great song in its own right.  The closest this album comes to the band’s former self is in “Pull out My Insides,” an upbeat, cheerful song which still manages to convey the band’s new wistfulness.

Ultimately, the important question here is not whether Does It Offend You’s new album is as good as its first.  They’re both excellent, though completely different, works.  Instead, its value depends on the listener’s mood.  If you’re up for a snarling bit of electronic dementia, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You will prove to be a very, very good choice.

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