We all know that the life of a celebrity isn’t as shiny and polished as it appears on TV and Social Media, but the fourth full-length release from grunge-punk trio from Leeds, Dinosaur Pile Up is certainly shiny, tight, and polished. Celebrity Mansions delves into the realities of the Rock & Roll life people blindly idolise, whilst also taking time for slow-ballads, Love-Letter anthems and some classically Dinosaur Pile Up sounding tracks.
The opening track is’Thrash Metal Cassette‘ – a riff driven, pure Grunge banger, seemingly about the s****y realities of being in a band trying to make it by touring relentlessly,with lyrics such as “Thrash metal on the stereo / 16 hours a day / I’m driving a s**t heap” and “Yeah tour was totally sick / … / i’m broke so buy me a drink“. The band make it clear that whilst they’re “livin’ [their] dream“, being away from friends and family sucks, being broke sucks, drinking s****y beer (come on, we all know that Blue Ribbon isn’t that good) in the back of a s****y van – that will definitely break down on the one day you were already late, definitely sucks. Overall, for a first impression on the album it opens it quite nicely and prepares you for whats to come.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a bit of Rap here and there. Just not in my Grunge. When I first heard second track, ‘Backfoot‘, I was on board with the powerful riffs that are totally 100% on brand for what we would expect from Dinosaur Pile Up, but then the lyrics came in and my first thought was, “Is Matt Bigland seriously rapping at me right now?“. Maybe its because I was thrown off guard, maybe I just truly didn’t like it. The message of this track is about the same as ‘Thrash Metal Cassette‘; “I’m trying to live my dream but I’m broke and being a musician is expensive, wah“. This song is also where the seemingly random Americanisms that plague the album begin to creep in. The classic American tropes of working for the metaphorical ‘man’ and waiting tables for less money than a 16 year old makes at McDonald’s in order to just get by. The song is good, and it grew on me but I can’t help but find it cheesy when bands from the UK try desperately to break into the US’s scene by attempting to adopt cultural tropes. However, the definite highlight of this song is the lyric “I wish I was was billionaire and ballin’ like the Rock” – a true masterpiece of lyricism (In fairness though, who doesn’t wish that? – Very Much Not A Ballin’ Billionaire Editor).
The next track on this album is ‘Stupid Heavy Metal Broken Hearted Loser Punk‘ and after reading that title on the track listing I had to double check I hadn’t accidentally picked up a Fall Out Boy or Panic! At The Disco album – but the iconically Dinosaur Pile Up sounding distorted guitars and fast paced drums kicked in and i pretty much knew that this track would be my favourite. A sound that would’ve been absolutely eaten up by late 2000’s Pop-Punk fans with a darker edge. This song is essentially a Crust-Punk’s love letter to a girl they met at a gig and will never see again. An anthem for the freaks who have a hopeless crush on a girl that wont even look at them. It doesn’t draw on the overriding themes of an introspective look at Rock Star life, instead, taking a step back for a cheesy love song with a long-ass title.
Next up was the title track, ‘Celebrity Mansions‘, a slow Rock Ballad with an air of self-assurance and self-belief with it’s lyrics, “My time is coming around / i don’t know when and i don’t know how” before ending the chorus on a slightly less positive note of “I guess i’m working it out / so if you’re there don’t quit on me now“. The second verse is relatable, about having to ‘work hard for the man’ because you cant afford to not, but it kills you on the inside. With sentiments about how it’s frustrating being a “no-one that no-one knows about“. It was about here I started to wonder if their drummer (Mike Sheils) bought a Cowbell and wanted to make the most of the money spent because this is at least the second time I have heard a cowbell being used on a track on this album (the first being ‘Back Foot‘). Not that i’m anti-Cowbell, of course.
‘Round The Bend‘ is another slower song with a sentimental edge that I cant quite put my finger on. it sounds familiar, but still gives me the excitement new music does. This song was released ahead of the album’s official release, which, now after listening to the entirety of the album, makes sense. It hinted at the ballad-y style the band touch on more-so than they have in their previous albums and I’m not mad at it. Black Limousine also has similar vibes to this. Reminiscent of fan-favourite ‘White T-Shirt and Jeans‘, off of their 2013 album Nature Nurture.
‘Pouring Gasoline‘ is back on track with the up-tempo stuff we were introduced to the album with, a song about how some of your friends seemingly disappear when you’re feeling under the weather. The chorus is catchy, the verses are bass driven and unique and the bridge creates a massive building sense read for the big finish of this song. Had I of not known any better I would’ve said that this was been the lead single just because of the sheer power put into this track, I can almost forgive the band for ditching their British roots with the word gasoline instead of petrol.
‘K West‘ dives back in head-first into the overall theme of Rock star life not being everything we want it to be. In this song Bigland pays another homage to Dwayne Johnson, and finally acknowledges that he looks like Kurt Cobain. This song reminds me of Nickelback’s Rockstar and I don’t quite know why. This song also contains my personal favourite lyric; “I quit drugs just ’cause my mum got scared“.
‘Professional Freak‘ is sounds like it could’ve been a Growing Pains B-side, which is great in some ways and not in others, much of this album sound like it could’ve been placed in the middle of another one of this bands releases and nobody would’ve really noticed. It means they’ve definitely kept a distinct style, that fans love. Whilst also beginning to branch out to new sounds as well. It’s good, it’s catchy, but almost definitely filler.
The album closes on ‘Long Way Down‘, a slow song that pays homage to someone no-longer in the bands lives. Its building, emotional and a good place to end on. It closes off the album with another sentiment on mental health and mental decline, a topic that the band didn’t shy away on in this release.
Overall, the album left me hungry for more, and also rekindled my love for this trio. Currently I am listening to ‘Nature Nurture‘ for the first time in a while and loving every second of it. It may not be their strongest release, but it certainly isn’t bad, with riff driven tracks and someseriously good song-writing. The strengths of this album have outweighed the obvious filler at times and lead me to give this album…