Sentimental but slightly lost full-length debut
The gap between adolescence and adulthood is wide and daunting, something the Wisconsin natives of Disq understand better than anyone. Taking on the voice of America’s misplaced and disillusioned youth, their debut full-length, Collector, is a strong release and logical stepping stone for the band.
After expanding from a duo to a five-piece and signing with Saddle Creek, Disq’s rapid growth culminates in this 38-minute, ten-track lamentation. Somehow balancing both the naivety and innocence of childhood with angst, romanticism and longing of early adulthood, the LP holds a faintly comforting sentiment: it has to get better from here because it can’t get worse.
Drawing influences from every conceivable genre including psych-rock, post-punk and even folk allows the sounds on Collector to be eclectic and each track is clearly discernable from its predecessor. The downside here is Disq’s lack of direction. Being a relatively new project, they still haven’t solidified their signature sound or identity, which is abundantly clear across the LP.
The strongest track is without a doubt is the opener, “Daily Routine.” It acts as an introduction to all the themes, musical and lyrical, that will be explored on the album. After lamenting on the unbearable prospect of a 9-5, Isaac DeBroux-Slone sings: “Come on and listen to me cry for help/ cause sometimes I feel like I wanna kill myself.” At its core, Collector is about coping with crippling and quickly deteriorating mental health, a concept introduced quite flippantly rather early on. Add in this track’s guitar dissonance, reverb and offbeat percussion, it’s evident this record will be musically varied and extensive.
Perhaps Disq’s most admirable quality is their candidness. Right off the bat, it’s clear they’ve got nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of. On “D19,” the band gets meta and playfully laments about the microphone brand. Where other groups would never release a track so simple and silly before making it an overarching metaphor, Disq is unembarrassed and facetious in their execution. They allow the song to be plain fun, setting it apart from the rest of the relatively grave tracks.
Taking the title for bluntest and arguably the biggest song on the record is “I Wanna Die.” Nine tracks in and this is the first one to make an intense impression. Complete with massive guitar riffs, distortion and screams, this is undoubtedly the climax of the record. The buildup into Collector’s arguably best chorus is intense with DeBroux-Slone crying out, “Without the comfort of my comfortable past/ I wonder why/ I wanna die.” He goes on to call back to the opener with, “I just can’t break my routine and I don’t know if I want to.” This song is not only incredibly smart lyric-wise, but it also contains the best guitar work on the album. While Collector as a whole may lack direction, “I Wanna Die” is the neon sign pointing the way to exactly where this band should live.
In being so aimless as a collective, unfortunately, quite a few tracks from Collector get lost in the lack of identity and become forgetful. “Konichiwa Internet” is only unique in its jarring shift in the melodic line, “I’m Really Trying” falls victim to overly generalized lyricism and “Fun Song 4” while fun, does nothing to further the record. With ten tracks total, each one should be able to stand on its own.
That being said, perhaps Collector didn’t need to be a full-length. Had Disq trimmed the fat from this record and released it as an EP, it easily could have been one of the year’s most impressive releases. The message and themes of the record are meaningful and significant. The execution simply leaves a little to be desired.
With time, there’s no question Disq will grow into a true force to be reckoned with. May the next release be more focused, but no less heartbreakingly honest. Weaknesses aside, Collector is still an incredibly strong full-length debut from a band who will only grow from here.