In his “A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen,” Salman Rushdie notes “it has also become plain that every religious story ever told about how we got here is quite simply wrong. This, finally, is what all religions have in common. They didn't get it right.” Without reliance on blind-faith traditions couched in unreason, we must rely on our readiness to think for ourselves.
California’s Dredg, inspired at least in part by Rushdie’s treatise, comes to similar conclusions on their fourth studio record. Entitled fittingly The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion, this is a powerful statement of life affirmation in the bleakest of circumstances.
Perhaps part of what makes Dredg so fascinating a choice to take on such a broad theme is where the band has been and what they’ve come through. There is a sort of untailored lustre to the quartet and this has kept them centred as they’ve wandered through passages of art rock, experimental music, and even light touches of the dreaded nu-metal with tours supporting the likes of Alien Ant Farm and Taproot.
The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion is the follow-up to the band’s most successful record, 2005’s Catch Without Arms, and a valiant declaration of survival. It is entrenched in a sort of pale honesty and deep joy, with songscapes crashing like waves over Rushdie’s “dear Six-Billionth” citizen.
At times, Dredg pushes off with expectant anthems. The pure charge of “Information” threatens to sound Coldplay-ish before veering off into true positivity. Vocalist Gavin Hayes offers the album’s core sentiment, singing “Just a little bit, just a little bit, a little more information... to add to my confusion.”
Other songs find strict rock notes, like the powerful “Saviour” with its poppy groove and sardonic tenor.
Scattered throughout the record are various interludes, most of which serve as effectual pathways between songs. One, album-closer “Stamp of Origin: Horizon,” furthers the record’s lyrical theme with Hayes’ suggestion to “Take a deep breath in, let your life fade out.” As distorted vocals offer counsel to “just let go,” it’s hard not to feel a sense of profound calm.
As Rushdie tells us, “freedom is that space in which contradiction can reign,” Dredg shares in the vision. The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion is an album of profound sonic freedom. Able to swerve naturally through patterns of pop, rock, indie, and experimental music, Dredg proves to be one of few bands living in “that space in which contradiction can reign.”