Out of sunny SoCal comes Dizzy Box Nine’s sophomore album, Pop Fantasy, which as its name suggests is a dreamscape of melodies skewed with furious rip-roar adrenaline in the vein of puritan punk rock. Right out of the gate, Dizzy Box Nine rocks the paint off of the walls, with the opening salvo of “Anytime, Anyplace,” the galloping “Yesterday” and the radiant “Like a Star;” each track pumping out a thicker layer of muscular riffage than the one that came before it. As we get deeper into the track list, it becomes very clear that Dizzy Box Nine hasn’t merely conceived a follow-up to their debut Electric Illusion; they’ve brought their sound into full color melodic high definition.
This album is a lot less eclectic than their debut record Electric Illusion. “Happy Birthday,” “Hello Baby” and “Maybe” all feature a streamlined mix that leans heavily on the percussion and vocals and allows the strings to shape the direction of the melody. On paper, the way this record is arranged is pretty familiar, perhaps even black and white, but it’s the band’s diversified tonality that really sets these songs apart. The tracks indeed seem to follow a similar formula, but if anything, it makes the final product feel much tighter than it would have been otherwise.
The production quality of Pop Fantasy is absolutely amazing, to the point where every detail, even the subtler ones buried in feedback and molten hot bass, is given its own platform to imprint a unique texture into the ultimate sound of the songs. These riffs are as cutting as they come, and through the master mix they’re amplified to a larger than life size that is both formidable and still undeniably friendly and inviting, including in more jagged tracks like “Talk Dirty to Me” (a cover of Poison), “Lost and Found,” “What I Like About You” and the intriguing album-closer “I Won’t Let You Down.”
Even the two cover songs this record contains (“Talk Dirty to Me” and The Cure’s iconic “Just Like Heaven”) have the sporty energy of the original material. Dizzy Box Nine have such a versatile, well-rounded rock sound that they’re a rare exception to the standard industrial rule that covers should be reserved for amateur bands and karaoke club-goers exclusively. The depth of the guitar work on “Just Like Heaven” rivals that of the original and Dinosaur Jr.’s much beloved rendition, and you could even make the case that “Talk Dirty to Me” sounds a lot less hedonistic and trite in this setting than it did when Poison released it.
Whether it’s surreal pop that turns you on or a more focused, breakneck riff rock that you seek, Pop Fantasy brings so much to the table that you’ll be pleasantly impressed with these thirteen glitter bombs.
Dizzy Box Nine may not yet be a household name, but this record has the potential to elevate the status of this melodic California crew from indie sensations to legitimate mainstream threats. Their sound continues to evolve and grow into its own here, and I can’t wait to hear what they do with it in their next set of live performances.