The Dwarves – Are Born Again

Yes. Oh, yes. The Dwarves: angry, vicious, unrepentant; crude, frequently naked, fun. The epitome of punk. Bloodied and bruised in live shows, always intimidating but never outdone. Who’d have thought they’d last 25 years?
Notorious as much for their onstage antics as their music, The Dwarves have always been a byword for chaos. Whether it’s blood-covered lead singer Blag Dahlia assaulting the crowd with his microphone, naked guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed infamously faking his own death, their bass player disappearing without trace during a crack binge in Detroit or their arrest by a truculent policeman live on stage, their antics have often overshadowed their music, which is a shame as it’s some of the best punk rock you’re ever likely to hear.

Finally following up 2004’s seminal ‘The Dwarves Must Die’, an eclectic album which showcased the band’s ability to seamlessly shift between genres, moving through surf-rock, industrial, hip-hop and good old fashioned punk while still maintaining their ferocity and sense of fun, stylistically ‘The Dwarves Are Born Again’ is a return to the hardcore punk of earlier albums like ‘Blood Guts & Pussy’, but with far higher production values, a pop-punk sensibility and more polished songwriting. The result is a masterpiece, one of the band’s best albums and a high water mark for punk in general. These 18 songs, only two clocking over two minutes in length, encapsulate everything that’s primitive, abhorrent and fucking glorious about punk.

From the opening ‘The Dwarves Are Still the Best Band in the World’, with its “let’s get high and fuck some sluts” refrain, it’s clear that age has not mellowed them and maturity is a concept that still eludes them. Good. Their celebrated crudeness is evident throughout, from the self-explanatory ‘I Masturbate Me’ to the paean to underage sex ‘Fake ID’, complete with sampled police sirens, to the slacker anthem ‘Working Class Hole’ to the stunningly brutal ‘Your Girl’s Mom’, which features screaming vocals from Nick Oliveri. A particular highlight is ‘Zip Zero’, an ode to a hard-livin’, hard-rockin’ imaginary superhero surreally balanced by what sounds like a shoutout from an elderly radio announcer. Strange, rocking, glorious, it’s my favourite song on the album.

The 18 songs fly by in a haze of aggression, humour and ferocious fucked-upness, and after the album’s over I can’t wait to listen to it again. A bastion of punk values, experimentation and great songwriting in the increasingly watered down world of punk, The Dwarves are a timely reminder of the heights the genre can reach. 25 years on the road haven’t dimmed their fire; if anything the years have just made them angrier, crasser and more fucking awesome. Support your local deviants: buy this record. If nothing else, it’ll keep them in drugs for a few days.

Alun Thomas