After the release of 2001's 'Fuck Art', The Dirty Nil jammed in their practice space for weeks, not overthinking anything or taking any external input. They didn’t sweat the small details or fret over transitions and arrangements. Less second guessing, more reckless abandon. It’s the same approach to rock they’ve taken since they were kids. “We had the best time pulling these songs together. It made me feel like a teenager in my parents’ basement again,” Bentham says. What came out was the appropriately titled Free Rein to Passions.
Their youthful rock-worship approach is immediately apparent on the album’s opener “Celebration,” which cuts in via a chugging metal riff, a subtle ode to one of the Nil’s influences, Power Trip’s late frontman Riley Gale. From there, the band indulges their loudest, gnarliest inclinations, making casual nods to their more chaotic favorites, including everything from the Jesus Lizard to the Blood Brothers. And on the album’s catchiest single, “Nicer Guy,” the Nil reminds listeners that they also still wield the power to stitch a perfect, infectious pop hook into their rock fabric.
Free Rein to Passions keeps things simple lyrically as well, and doesn’t get bogged down with overly complicated messaging. Nothing overwrought, nothing didactic. Just songs about working soul-sucking jobs, shredding on guitar, and striving to be a kinder person. “The only real central theme of the album is an acknowledgment of the crazy circumstances that we all occupy at this point in time, and being nice,” Bentham stresses. “It’s about being nice to everyone around you, and enjoying your silly little life and not getting too smashed down by prevailing negativity in the air.”