Dizzy Box Nine aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses of mainstream rock in their new album, the hard and slick Faster Than Anticipation. They aren’t flirting with the synthetic harmonies of a commercially-bankrolled sound, nor do they ever show even the slightest interest in recycling some of the jaded riffing of their punk influences into the 21st century here. In Faster Than Anticipation, only one element matters above all else, and that’s keeping the melodic intensity running on overdrive at all times. There are no robotic rhythms or clandestine rhymes about love and loss in this record, and even in vulnerable moments like “Amazing Night,” “Sometimes I Feel Like This” and “This Is All For You,” Dizzy Box Nine always sound swaggering and, frankly, downright fierce when it matters. Skewing pop melodicism with a punk rock mentality they acquire right in their own Southern Californian backyard, this band basically sets fire to the pop/rock model with a vengeful riff-rock adrenaline that many of us have been aching to hear this season. They’ve moved on from the sugary hooks of past affairs and, for all intents and purposes, found the right way to act rebellious without repelling occasional rock fans from their sound.

You won’t find pop hooks being delivered with as much brutishness as you will in “Phone Bill,” “The Sun Came Out The Other Day,” “For You” and “Little By Little” this July, but this isn’t because of Dizzy Box Nine’s anti-mainstream enthusiasm exclusively. On the contrary, the very bones of the aforementioned tracks require a bit of additional oomph that other bands would have likely had a difficult time producing (without the assistance of some kind of chemical substance that is). Not everything here is a speed demon – “OK, OK,” “Let’s Go Skating” and “It’ll Be OK” are all pretty disciplined in tempo and tonality, alluding to a thunderous percussive presence that could only be appreciated in a live performance. As much as I dig the riffs in this record, the vocal has a way of stealing the show in “If This Is Real,” “This Is All For You” and “Deep Inside Your Mind,” each of which are already multifaceted without the superb harmonies that send them over the moon.

I was admittedly somewhat familiar with Dizzy Box Nine’s previous work before sitting down with Faster Than Anticipation for the first time this week (namely last year’s Pop Fantasy LP), but I was not anticipating coming across as powerful a work in their most recent release as I did here. I’m absolutely hooked on this band’s sound after getting hypnotized by the smooth harmonies of “OK, OK” and “Phone Bill,” and with the right exposure from the FM format, I can see these guys taking their music to a much larger audience before this decade comes close to reaching the halfway mark. They’re essentially playing the modern definition of alternative rock here, and for that I think they deserve quite a bit of praise from critics and fans the same.

Sebastian Cole