“The Dial” by Squid is the kind of urgent punk, guitar-music that is needed right now. It is vital. The genre has had the shakings of a death rattle over the past seemingly several years, circling the drain like an insect doing its best to keep its head above water. Squid does more than just gasp for air here, it pulls from the genre’s roots, and uses them to create something both new and timeless that comments on the dark, looming realities of today – the ones that, in many senses, have remained the same all along.
In this post-Brexit, Trumpian era, art was initially rife with social commentary, and rightly praised for it. But these things are cyclical and the next class seems eager to revert to emo-driven varieties filled with whiney adolescent angst. These kids seem to have inked their faces because someone they know, knows someone, who told them that’s how they’re doing it in Berlin. And that plays perfectly into the palms of the Brighton/London five-piece, whose singer-drummer Ollie Judge has a voice with an uncanny resemblance to LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, who remains no stranger to the actual going-ons of the German capital.
As stated, Squid know their roots, and ‘The Dial’’s driving guitar riff seems almost plucked straight from Television’s ‘Marquee Moon’ Yet, there seems to be a more urgent commentary on the circular nature of the clock, a foreboding malaise that comes from things staying the same, “The dial doesn’t change/The dial stays the same”. The band is as angst-filled as all the other kids their age, but it’s of the physiophical kind, the kind born from staring at a clock and watching the moments drift away. There is an anger, a frustration, which begins to boil to the point of dire need. It’s an old soul kind of dread.
Underneath all the angst and urgency there lies an undeniable funk groove, which serves to steady the ship in some manner. ‘The Dial’ is insanely danceable. And funk is its buoy. There are weird warbles and wobbles that add an extra touch of texture, and even when the track builds into its screaming fits, it pushes movement – even though the philosophical undertones suggest a lack of it.
This all helps create a certain Talking Heads-esque feeling. Musical choices and lyrics bounce of each other, creating jagged shapes and sharp cuts. Thoughts are mirrored and challenged by melodic and rhythmic patterns. And just before the three minute mark an unexpected dreamlike comes over the song in the manner of a bridge that builds from nightmare to dancefloor dream and then a return to the hollers.
‘The Dial’ in many ways is built on repetition and steady amping up. It is constantly waiting to explode and boils to the top quite frequently. This volatile nature adds a sense of unhingement to the entire affair, which gives the track and its repetitious choices an added layer of depth.
With ‘The Dial’, Squid deliver an urgent and vital track, the kind that has been sorely missing from our Spotify playlists for some time. It screams of now, but it screams of always, and that’s exactly the point. It’s all part of one big cycle, and we hope it’s a signal of a return of the type of music that once pushed mental and physical boundaries and had mothers and fathers frightened for their livelihood. “Get out of the streets,” they’ll yell. “Squid is coming!”
HURRY – BUY – SQUID MUSIC