Yeah, the name. You won’t get used to it. Circle Jerks, you get used to. Pissed Jeans, you can sort of shrug off. But Diarrhea Planet…unless the band becomes Nashville’s answer to The Clash, their moniker will always impede their music on some level. Hell, try even writing a paragraph about them without having to high-step over double entendres and puns. It’s annoying, mostly because you’re painfully self-conscious while listening, hoping to God no one asks you what band you are blasting through your headphones. You can’t even break it down to an acronym without slipping into equally murky water.
As a six-piece hooky punk band, their name obscures the fact that they have two superfluous members in their group. Similarly, the vintage “Eruption”-leads seem conjured as much for visual appeal as for actual dynamic functions, which on record are very little. This might become more noticeable when they are hemorrhaging money on tour, but the DIY company they keep (Titus Andronicus, The So So Glos) indicates that they couldn’t care less about profit margins.
But, with their four-guitar tribute to excess combining with their poop-joke handle to paint the sonic equivalent of a whoopee cushion, Diarrhea Planet’s sophomore album, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, leaves the jokes scrawled across their LP’s front cover—which, in this year’s skatepark run by Wavves and FIDLAR, separates Diarrhea Planet from the pack, as their new album doesn’t need to be filed under guilty pleasure or taken with a grain of salt, showing sophistication in songwriting that is easy to dismiss unfairly.
Opener “Lite Dream” stacks the familiarity up high with a Misfits-indebted romp that plays its hand straight-up, no winks or smirks required to throw your body around the place where you live. The Adolescents and the Dead Boys are recalled on their most aggressive songs, bruisers “Togano” and “Separations.” These contrast nicely with anthemic bro hymns “Hammer of the Gods” and “Field of Dreams,” the latter of which has the single moment where four guitars are essential; the blast of distortion that occurs after the song’s initial verse is palpable across the barriers of space and time, pulling the listener into the recording space that produced such an expansive, encompassing power chord.
I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams would be enjoyable as just a punk renaissance album, but the same sounds have been revived so many times, it’s almost like reviving revivalism, and that’s where the album’s finest tracks, “Kids” and “Skeleton Head” make all the difference. Fusing their punk tendencies with emotional drama and earnestness, the band recalls similarly punk-influenced, first-wave emo luminaries Sunny Day Real Estate. “Kids” is declarative in nature, with “I’m a singer” and “we’re just kids” becoming rallying cries, reminding that there is art in knowing your limitations. Likewise, “Skeleton Head” delves into candidly discussing depression without blinking, scaling unforeseen peaks with the ease of, well, a band not named Diarrhea Planet. I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams ends up being something more than what is reasonably expected; it’s a great album with depth and intelligence, and possibly the best punk album released in a year of many great punk albums, outshining the band’s contemporaries by not seeing the genre as limiting, and changing the boundaries to suit their own abilities.