D.R.U.G.S. - Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows
Sire Records, Decaydance Records – 2011
When the emo kids dream supergroup, Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, broke out with their debut album over 9 years ago I was elated. My undying love of Matt Good of From First to Last made me run to the nearest Bull Moose Records to get this record. Craig Owens (every scene queens first crush) started this mega group by rounding up Matt Good, Nick Martin of Underminded, Aaron Stern of Matchbook Romance, and Adam Russell of Story of the Year. With such big names and massive talent, I had exceedingly high hopes that every track would be a hit. And I was not disappointed.
As we’ve talked about before, most emo/pop-punk bands seem to love the unnecessarily long song titles. So of course, the opener is entitled If You Think This Song is About You, It Probably Is. Craig Owens provides the perfect mix of angst and melodramatics in his lyrics. Normally with a song title and a band like this, my first thought was this was going to be a sad break up song. Instead we get an explosion of accusations; almost like a middle finger anthem to any and all people who have done us wrong. I’m not going to lie, when I decided to do this review, this song was always my favorite to blast in the car after a shitty day. And it still is.
The Only Thing You Talk About is actually a song by Craig Owen’s other band Chiodos. The song entitled Thermacare was recorded with Craig before his departure. If you scour YouTube and compare the two, the Chiodos version is much heavier. While I prefer a little less screamo in my old age of 28, I think the D.R.U.G.S. rendition is SO much better. You still get heavy guitars and a little bit of screaming courtesy of Matt Good, but you can hear Craig’s vocals and the emotions he portrays way better than the Chiodos version. Most people I have spoken to about this song in particular, have mixed feelings. While Chiodos will always be a staple in the scene, this album had much better production quality and love put into it, it’s hard for me to compare the two.
Graveyard Dancing, opens with some pizzicato violin and a glockenspiel, providing a semi-spooky atmosphere. The tone of the song makes me incredibly uncomfortable; as if I’m witnessing someone going through a semi-abusive relationship and the narrator is becoming unhinged. The perfect mix of creepy orchestra instrumentals and heavy hard-core guitar and drums really being this track to the next level.
D.R.U.G.S. is an odd album when it comes to track listings. There are two song titles that are palindromes. First up is the weirdly entitled Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm. The deeper we get into this album, the squirmier I get. Most records I liked and listened to, tended to be break up or love songs. While listening to this track in particular, it feels like that moment after a horrible break up. You know those moments? Tracing back all the flaws that were spit back at you by a mean ex-lover, and almost believing them. Craig Owens is self-deprecating in the worst way throughout this record. Who hurt you Craig?!?
Sex Life was one of the first songs I listened to on this album, and honestly it was the music video teaser that made me fall in love with it (who doesn’t like a 3 minute 30 second video of cake baking followed by killing your boyfriend??). Sex Life is the epitome of a hard break-up song. An ex-lover who comes crawling back, whether it be from desperation or loneliness, is called out for their actions. Owens spits accusatory remarks and points out his target’s sexual needs being all that seems to matter to them. It’s a doozy of a song, but it’s so good to scream along to in your car!
The final palindrome is up next with Laminated E.T. Animal. The opening lyric is a gut punch, and the Cliff Note’s explanation of the tone of the song: “If I am your salvation, Welcome to hell”. At this point of the record, I feel like I need to go to therapy to wrestle with my own demons. Or at the very least a lobotomy. As much as I love this record, the undertones and feel of each track is less sad and more reflective and angry.
Stop Reading, Start Doing Pushups is an unexpected self-love anthem. The track points out many self-aware flaws, but also reassures that despite those, we are better off. And at the very least, never be the person who hurt us the most. The lyric I like most is the first line to the chorus, “I may have more sensitivity than talents”. Which I would have absolutely put as a passive aggressive AIM away message after a breakup (had this song been around in 2006). Something about a song battling between your own demons, while also accepting them is refreshing and much needed. As the super cliché goes; nobody is perfect.
Up next is another wonderfully spiteful “go fuck yourself” style song: I’m The Rehab, You’re The Drugs. Haven’t we all encountered toxic, mentally abusive people in our lives? And isn’t it a breath of fresh air when you finally cut ties with them? This track encompasses that feeling, and more. It provokes the feeling of wanting to wave at your shitty ex on the street and telling them to go ahead and drown. You are SO much better off.
Now for one, if not the only, pop song on this entire record; I’m Here to Take the Sky. Apparently, the layout of the album goes I hate you, I hate myself, fuck you, and I’m so much better off. And this song falls into the last category. My favorite line in this song is tucked in the bridge “I’m gonna live my life take chances”. And isn’t that a moto we should all live by? This track is the calm after the storm, where you can reflect and be excited for what’s to come. Reach for the sky, and don’t let anything stop you.
The Hangman is a complete 180 from the previous song, and almost feels nightmarish. Screaming about being drained and just wanting to be left alone. Just like the theme of this entire record, it’s about escaping someone who is hurting you. But sometimes, even when you absolutely hate someone, it’s hard to not love them too. This song is so real and raw and makes my stomach churn. And honestly, because of it’s bluntness and the emotions it provokes, for me personally I hate this song. But that’s only because Destroy Rebuild did such a great job getting me into that emotion. Thanks, I hate it.
And finally, rounding off this emotional rollercoaster is the oddly titled My Swagger Has A First Name. With all of the twist and turns this album gave us, I was a touch disappointed in the closer. The blasé lyrics left no thought or feeling, while the rest of the record gave me chills and maybe a bit of PTSD. It’s not a bad song, but maybe the band should have buried it somewhere in the middle and picked Sex Life or I’m the Rehab as the perfect punctuation mark for this otherwise perfect album.
My Final Thoughts:
This record popped up in a playlist and I completely forgot about it. It made the perfect segue into a more “hard-core” style band for these reviews. I am a bit disappointed we never got to experience another wonderful album like this from them, but I will pretty much always be a fan of Craig Owens and any and all endeavors he embarks on.
My Emo Rating?