Goodbye Dinosaur… is a fun-filled debut EP from grungy post-hardcore act Phoxjaw, and possesses grooves as menacing as the creatures described in the album’s lyrics.
Rarely does an act so perfectly partner words to the music they’re matched with as Phoxjaw does with the title of their debut EP. Goodbye Dinosaur… has riffs with as much power and rage as the creatures the record is named for, but also contains enough humor and fun to keep every moment entertaining.
“The Great Dying” starts as an finale of sorts, providing a noisy, ominous soundscape that is likely meant to evoke the enigmatic end of our dino friends. This is the only minute of the EP that I was not immediately captured by, adding little to complement the energetic, grungy post-hardcore that follows.
“Triceratops”, the EP’s previously released single, is the album’s mission statement and a lesson in minimalism. Defined by a four beat riff that is still endlessly fun, it segues into an unexpectedly Alice In Chains-esque verse, with watery keys and some of the most fun, yet punk lyrics I’ve heard this year.
The band’s established ability for crafting great riffs and memorable hooks carries into the faster “Lottery” (another previously released song), with more British punk flavor than the previous song and an immediately memorable, anthemic chorus. This energy is countered by the balladesque intro, mammoth-like guitars, and oddball lyrics in “Dinosaur Bones”, promising the subject of the song: ‘I’ll make you a necklace from dinosaur bones.‘
With only five full tracks here and twenty-one minutes on Goodbye Dinosaur… , Phoxjaw have little space for error or meandering. Thankfully, the group keeps every moment engaging through contrasts: there’s the destructive grooves and soft verses of the aforementioned “Triceratops”, the uplifting pop and scream-laden rage of “Weapon”, and the fuzz-filled, lumbering, Sabbath-like doomy tones of closer “Plastic Wedding”. No moment is expected, yet nothing is out of place. In fact, it is only on the album’s final track that things feel a bit stagnant, with one riff defining the majority of the song. This isn’t helped by the fact that “Plastic Wedding” is also the longest song on the EP. The track is still enjoyable, but misses some of the fun, unpredictable energy of its predecessors.
It is possible that some older fans of the band will want for more new material, since a third of the album’s six tracks have been heard prior to its release. Nonetheless, for a new fan like myself, Goodbye Dinosaur… is an impressive and fun-filled introduction to a band that has an undoubted, yet understated talent. Phoxjaw never take themselves too seriously, but do not let their humor be an excuse for uninspired songwriting, underdeveloped arrangements, or lackluster melodies. Goodbye Dinosaur… may be a farewell to our prehistoric pals, but hopefully marks the beginning of an excellent and promising post-hardcore career.