Albums that start off with screamed lines like "Why didn't you kill yourself today?" usually make at least one of two things immediately clear: either that this band is gleefully avoiding being taken seriously, or that they are simply that pissed off. On Messy, Isn't It?, Southern Californian hardcore collective Dangers' second studio album, they seem to take a little from column a, and a little from column b. By a simple look at the track listing, you can tell immediately that these guys have a sense of humor (albeit rather dark) about themselves. The song titles range from clever plays on words (Under the Affluence and No Vonneguts, No Glory) to downright silliness (Saved By the Buoyancy of Citrus and Teenage Porno Hunter). This doesn't make the harsh, cynical opinions within any easier to digest for those who might not share them, but it accomplishes something that far too many albums with certain mindsets behind them fail to do: it establishes that these are just opinions. Even with as intensely as they're expressed by Al Brown's rabid, piercing scream, there is never a sense of urgency to spread these ideas further than to simply let them be known.
Messy, Isn't It? is an incredibly furious listen. From the complacent housewife bashing Stay-At-Home Mom to the solitude praising (Love Poem), rage and cynicism is the name of the game. The latter is filled with the line, "It's so nice to wake up in the morning all alone and not have to tell somebody you love them, when you don't love them anymore," spoken by apathetic voices that quickly grow in number and overlap each other, which bring the track strangely close to the intensity of the fully played songs. Check, Please also expresses disenchantment with the widely accepted ideals of romance, posing the question, "If meat is murder, what is love?" On Opposable, the band obliterates heralded music figures (Public Enemy, the Beatles, and Pink Floyd to name a few), religious intentions, and war all at once, the first being done with ten times the effectiveness and none of the obnoxious pretension of Scroobius Pip on his single (with Dan le Sac) Thou Shalt Always Kill a few years back. The pair of Cure for Cancer and Cure for AIDS scream of the acceptance of harsh realities, and Bottom of the 9th Ward brings to the forefront the level of apathy people are capable of but never admit. On top of the heavy nihilistic screaming, there's even a Falling Down reference thrown in as well ("Rick, serve me my god damn breakfast"). The lyrics are all very stream of consciousness, and as such are rarely very eloquent, but the ideas and anger behind them are still quite maturely conveyed. It's that genuine punk attitude that has been seen so seldom since the eighties, getting pissed off at societal ills and dismissing them entirely.
Musically speaking, the album is surprisingly well put together. While it's not a huge deviation on the hardcore genre, the band dabbles a bit with erratically placed breaks and random time signature changes, just enough to switch things up from time to time, but it's also subtle enough to avoid detracting away from the brutal attack of the vocals and loud, raucous guitar. In fact, it's the overall purity to the abrasive musical assault that really makes the album feel more genuine; it backs up Brown's venomous delivery with musicianship clever enough to stand out, while being aggressive enough to sound every bit as angry as he does. It ain't pretty, but it's about as accessible (and thought provoking) as this kind of music gets.
Messy, Isn't It? comes with a mesmerizing fury, and manages to maintain its intensity over the course of nineteen tracks which, admittedly, only add up to just under forty minutes. Dangers have produced something absolutely unrelenting and oddly charming, and along with a scant few other standouts from the last year or so, have given a tired genre a huge jolt.