There are people who will swear that Badmotorfinger is a better album than Superunknown – those people are wrong. On Badmotorfinger there may be some moments that are better, or even a song that is better, but as a cohesive, digestible piece of art, Superunknown is simply a superior album. When Diarrhea Planet releases Turn To Gold next week, fans of the I-like-their-old-stuff-ilk are sure to come scurrying out of the woodwork but the fact of the matter is that Turn To Gold is the best album Diarrhea Planet has released…so far.
Turn To Gold sounds like a major-label debut, mature and polished. Labeling an album as “mature” or “polished” is usually a death sentence in the world of punk music and often with good reason. If punk is supposed to be unbridled passion, is there really time for second takes and singing in tune? Maybe not but, really, what is punk anyway? If punk music has to adhere to a set of rules then isn’t breaking those rules the most punk thing a band could do?
Whatever chaos Diarrhea Planet may have given up on this particular set of recordings has been more than compensated for in nuance, instrumentation, and diversity. There is no denying the talent of these fine young men from Nashville but never before have they seemed so comfortable pulling the reigns back a bit to create breathing space and honest-to-goodness sonic dynamics. The amps are no longer all set at 11. That said, the album never gets too comfortable either…the quickness with which they can drop blast beats into a heretofore serene environment is nothing short of amazing.
If I were in the business of ranking things, I would say that the song, “Kids,” from their previous album I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, is probably the best individual song the band has ever written. “Kids,” is probably their Everlong but IRBYWD lacks in depth. Turn To Gold has clearly had the benefit of patience and support from their label, Infinity Cat. Instead of demanding an album of punk rock anthems and bangers, Diarrhea Planet was given the freedom to see what happens when you give a group of misfit private-school virtuosos with a stupid name a national make-or-break opportunity. Diarrhea Planet rose to the challenge and created the unquestionably finest album in their career.
When Diarrhea Planet goes on tour to support Turn To Gold, go see them. Buy an album. Buy a t-shirt. Drink a beer. It will be one of the most fun nights of your life. Music, oftentimes, needs to lighten up and just have a little fun. Sometimes, too much finger-tapping actually isn’t too much and the hair isn’t ever quite long enough. Yeah, Diarrhea Planet may have just recorded their best and most mature album but that doesn’t mean for a second that they aren’t still the most thrilling band working today. Love live DP and long live the Planeteers!
(DP at sxsw in 2014. I walked out of their show holding the vinyl of I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams and ran into Damian Abraham(Fucked Up) and Lee Spielman(Trash Talk) across the street and they let me know what a good band I just saw)