“It’s been tough getting to this point, but through those grey clouds we were able to find strength in our music and create something pure”, stated Dilly Dally on the release of their second record, Heaven. So it was, with various factors creating a three year gap between first and second records. In fact, it was the success of their debut album Sore, which sent them nationwide and earned them plaudits from the likes of The Guardian and NME, which almost broke the band. Straining their friendships and mental health, it was very nearly the end of the Toronto band. Nevertheless, they’ve finally arrived with their second record and it’s absolutely brilliant. Keeping the feistiness of Sore, with a newfound resilience and sense of hope, Heaven could be better than its predecessor.
There’s a more positive nature to Heaven, as if they’re glad it all worked out in the end. Like how a person reacts in a near-death situation, Dilly Dally and Heaven are steeped in optimism, buoyancy, and emancipation. Take album opener and lead single, ‘I Feel Free’, for example, as an instance of the band’s new lease of life. “This song is me asking my bandmates to let go of what’s been weighing us down,” stated lead singer Katie Monks of the track. “We’re not going to let the past hold us back from our dreams. Let’s do this thing.” It’s a huge statement of intent, and a genuinely uplifting sentiment that threads its way all through the record.
Likewise, second song and single ‘Doom’ continues the theme of hope in the face of adversity. “When your friends are out of reach, and you feel like you could fall forever into a deep depression, this song is asking you to catch yourself. It’s so hard to admit sometimes that we are all fragile. And it’s up to each of us as individuals, to take responsibility for our own happiness” states the band about ‘Doom’. Indeed, much of Heaven is about the struggles we face in life and being able to combat it, however, unlike most records with the same themes, it’s not wrapped up in ballads. This is still the frenetic, atmospheric Dilly Dally we loved from Sore, and it still contains beautiful, cinematic vocals from Katie Monks.
Elsewhere, there’s the Nancy Sinatra-meets-Quentin Tarantino-esque ‘Sober Motel’ and ‘Sorry Ur Mad’, which features beautiful, husky tones from Monks. There’s a constant, frenzied escalation to Heaven that wasn’t there with Sore. There’s a sense of profoundness which is an example of the band growing as musicians. Ironically, as the band nearly disappeared completely, the time has been good to Dilly Dally. Throughout the 35-minute burst of energy, it’s an exceptionally tight piece of work with the emotional and musical depth to carry it exceptionally.
There was a time where Heaven looked like it would fall into the ether. Let’s just thank the lords above that it didn’t. A truly vital album, combining the noisy punk of their first record with the genuine happiness the band seem to be in, it’s an absolute riot and, surprisingly, one of the most inspiring and heartwarming records of the year. Let’s just hope we’re not waiting another three years for the next one.