For Dilly Dally, Heaven is a much-needed rebirth. The Toronto-based four-piece had no way of anticipating the success that would follow their 2015 debut, and the newfound wave of attention nearly tore the band apart. You can hear the strain that was placed on Dilly Dally all over their impassioned follow up; not because of its wearied haze but because of its sheer triumphant resilience. Heaven gracefully spans a vast emotional spectrum, while always boasting an unshakable optimism.
The album wastes no time, diving straight into the infectious and transcendent dream pop explosion that is ”I Feel Free.” One of the band’s most endearing strengths is their ability to turn intimate declarations of self-discovery into expansive, arena-ready rockers. Even on the aptly-titled “Doom,” a sinister atmosphere is coupled with an upbeat cadence, as Katie Monks’s ominous growl never fails to be as entrancing as it is malevolent: “What’s inside you is sacred.” When she unleashes the full authority of her outrage a couple of tracks later on ”Sober Motel,” the listener never for a moment doubts the courage of her convictions.
Yet even amidst its pent-up rage, Heaven is filled with a delicate tenderness. Reserved tracks like the astral, illusory ”Believe” and the melodic and sarcastically named “Sorry Ur Mad” serve as a soothing balm. For every intense emotional release on the album, there is a welcome moment of respite and reflection, an opportunity to retrace the spiritual journey. Dilly Dally is constantly being pulled by both the head and the heart, finding a necessary balance between the two extremes. They’re even able to find structural harmony within individual songs, as with the sweeping movements of ”Pretty Cold” that swirl through intense cycles of emotion to get to the truth hidden within.
In the album’s back half, Dilly Dally lean even more into their 90s alt-rock aesthetic, while always rising above cheap nostalgia. Album standout “Marijuana” is a slow-building, head-banging ode to self-reliance, finding value in even those society has cast aside. As subdued lounge track “Bad Biology” challenges gender norms and bouncy album closer “Heaven” becomes the record’s most celebratory song, the listener is left feeling reaffirmed, ready to take on the world that had scorned them.
As it cuts through all the muck and mire, Heaven is a fresh start, giving its audience the opportunity to reclaim their identity amongst a world that often feels deliberately designed to alienate its inhabitants. Dilly Dally are preaching the gospel of hope. They’ve taken a snapshot of the desperation around them and tilted it on its axis. This record doesn’t ignore the chaos; it simply highlights the capabilities of humanity to makes sense of it all.