New Music: Dance Movie’s ‘Pierce’

Dance Movie is back. The Halifax-based group recently released ‘Pierce,’ their first new recorded material in almost five years, but it’s been well worth the wait. With eleven tracks recorded over a five-day music bender, Dance Movie’s captivating blend of upbeat rock and mellow indie pop is built upon deeply emotional lyrics, giving their sound a unique blend of both power and vulnerability at the same time.

Pierce‘ spends most of its first half focused on pumped-up garage rock. The album’s first track, ‘Nosebleed,’ is an energetic opener, driven by an infectious drum beat and rapid power chords, the lyrics emotionally charged and urging confrontation. ‘Friday Night Mights‘ follows in this vein as well, with a loud, upbeat sound, building energy, an irresistible rhythm, and a catchy, shouted refrain. More complex in sound then the album’s other rock tracks, ‘Henry‘ embraces more of Dance Movie’s indie side. With a smooth sound, plenty of hooks, and just a hint of pop-country charm in the chorus, ‘Henry‘ stands out as one of the album’s strongest tracks.

Amid this harder music though, the opening tracks on ‘Pierce‘ include two slower songs, ‘Stalker‘ and ‘Giving Up the Grace.’ Outliers in sound but not quality, these two tracks are some of the album’s early highlights, showcasing Dance Movie’s versatile sound. The sinister, creeping bassline and slow build of ‘Stalker‘ sets a perfect tone for the album’s darkest track as it intensifies to a hard rock climax. Almost the polar opposite, ‘Giving Up the Grace‘ is a gentle yet emotionally charged indie-pop song of unrequited longing, elegant and sorrowful.

Lively and passionate, ‘Penny‘ is a heartfealt song of a one-sided, lifelong love and the hopes and anxieties that come with it. With a fast tempo, a catchy tune, and palpable emotion, it can’t help but get the blood pumping. Leading up to the album’s release, ‘Penny‘ was featured in Dance Movie’s first music video in years, directed by Dan Ledwell.

The tail end of the album holds some of its strongest tracks in the form of slower alt-pop songs. With vulnerable sound and lyrics, ‘Thaw’s repetition builds to a growing intensity, beginning soft-sung and quiet but coming to a dramatic and powerful conclusion. ‘North Star’ is a gentle, restrained track which, while subdued in its sound, holds a simple, intimate beauty.

The album concludes with ‘Too Legit to Commit‘ which, while admittedly somewhat cringeworthy in title, is one of the album’s most passionate and powerful songs. In contrast to the rest of the album, heavy in themes of longing, unrequited love, and genuine affection, ‘Too Legit to Commit‘ is a pained, scornful rebuke of a former lover, with both sound and lyrics growing progressively heavier from emotional baggage.

Pierce‘ is a fairly musically diverse album, but the whole experience is brought together perfectly by Tara Thorne’s phenomenal vocal work. Authentic and heartfelt, her voice breathes life into the lyrics’ emotionality. Especially on tracks such as ‘Give Up the Grace‘ and ‘Too Legit to Commit,’ Thorne’s performance has a level of genuine passion and feeling that doesn’t come around often.

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