Whenever it seems like the glowingly smooth, wax-slick electro-pop trend of the past dozen years might finally be coming to a close, some new act emerges, programs a beat, plunks out an earworm on a synthesizer, and extends the lifeline of the stylistic status quo. The longer this state of affairs persists, however, the more Diarrhea Planet—a name that never sits easy no matter how familiar one gets with it—doubles down on pushing the antithesis. Turn To Gold’s overwhelming sound is still guitar (and, yes, there are still four of them), but the record isn’t just another dizzying tornado of distortion; rather, it showcases the versatility of the band’s shred-and-strum-and-shout approach.
Into this robust, fiery blend go garage-prog, pop-punk, metal, bluesy jams, and throwback alt-grunge, all whipped together to form an outrageous reinvention of party rock. Each Diarrhea Planet guitarist simultaneously follows his own muse: One might be pounding out power chords with another convulsing in a feverish finger-tapped solo, another soaking everything in raw feedback, and still another dutifully keeping a rhythm together. Meanwhile, three different singers contribute vocals seemingly as their whimsies dictate.
Turn To Gold is an album that does a little bit of it all to demonstrate that it can do it all. Whereas Diarrhea Planet’s earlier efforts would unapologetically let these performances devolve into chaos, the group now keeps the madness contained within strategically constructed arrangements. The noise collage is successfully crafted into enjoyable songs.
Peppered with machine-gun riffs, gnarled reimaginings of ’90s rock like “Life Pass” capture the slosh and sweat and soar of a crowd-pumping anthem. Thrash guitars, motorcycle exhaust, and full-tilt percussion (drummer Ian Bush is new to the group) lock up the bombastic “Ain’t A Sin To Win” in a blistering two minutes. Yet the band also takes its first stab at more sober and contemplative material with “Dune,” a measured, midtempo cut describing depression.
Diarrhea Planet’s arena-saturating hooks and barrage of guitars have proven the band’s ability; now it cautiously attempts to be more musically astute. That’s a challenging balance to find, as the bulk of Diarrhea Planet’s clout comes from its contrast. Thankfully, Turn To Gold’s shift in songwriting is subtle, adapting the instrumental assault to different ends without losing its visceral thrills.