The Phantom Tollbooth

See Through Me
Artist: Dumpster
Label: Bulletproof Music
 
Hailing from the land down under, the boys in Dumpster are making their first impression with See Through Me, a collection of eleven understated, tasteful, and decidedly mature songs of faith.  This band is a rare blend of Radiohead and Mercury-era Prayer Chain, mixed with a subtle hint of Live and The Lemonheads.

In their native Australia, the band has played some of their country's biggest shows like the Blackstump Festival, and they've opened for major secular and Christian acts who've toured their fair land. This seasoned band clearly shows that they know how to write a good song, and how to make a great record.

Lyrically, the band approaches things from something of a "seekers" mentality. They don't doubt that God is real, they just honestly address the feelings of those who are searching for Him and the frustrations all of us face, whether we've "found" Him or not. Nowhere is this expressed more eloquently than in the song "Rhinoplasty":
 
         I'd  turn away, I'd turn inside, I'd turn to God
         but He's in the sky
         I'd turn my back into my front, I need a scalpel, a general
         I'm anyone's, just make it better
         Can you cut me, can you mold me
         Just make it better
         I'd turn away, but where to now?
         I'd turn to God if
         He's not a cow
         I need a hand and some new shoes
         With a knife and some loving I could not lose...
         just make it better
         If you find me in these pieces, just make it better.
 
While listening to this artful collection of modern rock poetry, you sometimes might wish they'd just cut loose and rock the house. They build excellent tension--the lyrics are a slowly burning flame, the band responds with an achingly gradual swell of feedback, and they seem on the verge of exploding into a full-blown epic catharisis of sound and fury--but then the song ends and you're left feeling...well, frustrated.

So, you think to yourself, "Maybe the next song will give me that release," but it doesn't. Apparently, this isn't what the band intends to do at all. They want to build your expectation, keep you listening for the punchline while they spin their web and make their points, and then they take a bow and say "Goodnight".

After several listens, you might be tempted to find something else really loud and noisy and crank it to eleven, but you won't be able to forget the music of Dumpster that easily. It has the curious effect of a good mystery novel that keeps you turning the pages and searching for answers because the answer is there, you know it is, but it's just not very obvious.

For this, Dumpster commands a great deal of respect. They so easily could've churned out music for the masses and loaded this CD with shallow ear candy. Instead, they've chosen the path less traveled in today's modern rock world. For this reason alone, Dumpster is a band that deserves to be heard.

By Keith Giles    (3/6/99)