The Pack A.D. Mix Blood, Social Consciousness, and Blues Rock for 'Dollhouse' Video: Exclusive Premiere
publish date: 2017-10-05
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said chaos within oneself is necessary to give birth to a dancing star. Though in today’s cultural and political climate, chaos outside the self is bound to inspire more than a little starshine as well. Such is the case for Canadian garage-blues-psych rock duo The Pack A.D.
The Pack A.D.’s seventh studio album, Dollhouse, will be released on Oct. 13 and their latest music video, for the album’s title track, premieres below. Dollhouse, like the band’s other acclaimed albums, is a searing, raw, invigorating work of pure rock 'n' roll. Their rich, lush, and complex wall of sound belies the fact that they’re just two people, Maya Miller on drums and vocals and Becky Black on guitar and vocals. What makes this new album different than those before it, however, is this time the band actively critiques culture, an exercise they have usually reserved for a few tracks here and there but never an entire album.
“It just feels like everything is accelerating, at least in North America, to this really gross place,” Miller says. “People are enlightened and the people who can execute change are choosing to not be enlightened over making a buck,” she goes on. “It just feels really crazy, and a good time to stand up and say something is now.”
Miller and Black actively discuss climate change, greed, politics and more on the album. The song “Dollhouse” itself is a reminder to remove oneself from insularity, from that dollhouse where everything’s just peachy, and be conscious of and active in changing the difficulties in the world.
Assembling the album was an act of catharsis for the duo, their expression of feeling a malaise for nearly a year. While their last album, the critically celebrated Positive Thinking, was about depression, it featured more calls to action whereas Dollhouse is more of a discussion, according to Miller. The band tackles a universal despondency through their signature literature-and-film -inspired lyrics -- references to British novelist Thomas Hardy’s masterpieces of misery Tess of the d’Ubervilles and Jude the Obscure both appear on the album, as do sonic references to the tripods in the 2005 film War of the Worlds -- but there’s hope in between the lines as well.
Dollhouse is not just the band’s first foray into cultural critique, but into love songs. “Considering everything that’s going on, everybody [needs] more than ever to reach out and not be alone,” Miller says. “It’s either that or we just both showed up and had love -type lyrics for the first time ever, which I can’t explain,” she laughs.
The album is sprinkled with delicious morsels of influences that blend darkness with light, their trademark gritty, grungy, growly blues-rock opening with an ‘80s metal guitar explosion on “Woke Up Weird,” then peppered with surf riffs and early Beach Boys-esque vocals on “$,” melancholic Cure-ish lyrics coupled with ‘60s garage pop on “Not Alright,” and even Patsy Cline-era mourning on “Because of You.”
After watching the state of the world unfold during the first part of this year, Miller and Black wrote and recorded Dollhouse quickly, within just two months. In nine songs and just under 29 minutes, the album is an economy of ideas, Miller says. While Miller and Black normally bring to the studio at least twice the amount of songs to record and then sift through and make selections later, this time they actually only brought in and recorded the songs that are now on the album. “[Given] attention spans and how we’re all consuming entertainment and information at this point, to do an album with a whole bunch of songs just seems kind of gratuitous and you’re just throwing songs out of the window,” Miller says. “We just wanted to make a tight little package of songs that we liked playing.” Thus spoke The Pack A.D, and when Dollhouse is released it will have been only 14 months since Positive Thinking came out.