Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce to you the successful rebirth of grunge. All right, so it's not exactly grunge the way we remember it (an offshoot of punk involving dirty hair, flannel, and heroin); instead, the darling trio Dame Fate have combined the fuzzy, angst-laden vibes of grunge, minimalist, rumbling shoegazer rock, and sparse, poppy keyboards, creating something both excitingly new and tremendously wistful.
Time and Tide Wait for No Man is the debut from these DC girls -- but while they've played with the likes of Q and not U, there isn't much of the whole Fugazi thing going on. Instead, bassist/vocalist Yalan Papillion does a remarkably subdued Courtney Love impression. In this case that's definitely a good thing. There are elements of so many bands at work here, virtually any guitar-based pop/rock band can be picked out. This disc is practically the culmination of decades of rock music, rolled into one pleasant batch of hushed catharsis.
What makes Dame Fate special is their willingness to get carried away. The album gives you the sense that at any moment, the group could freak out and really start jamming, throwing solos around and shrieking their lines like banshees. Instead, they're reserved, always at that threshold of tension; for instance, instead of snarling "And you say that cocaine is a lovely drug, just like you" ("Lovely Drug"), Yalan sings it beautifully, and only slightly louder than a whisper. You know she wants to scream it, but she doesn't, and it's Dame Fate's ability to keep themselves in check that makes Time and Tide work so well.
Sometimes the formula wears a bit thin. A lot of these songs start the same way, with a low, shaky bass and a few plucked guitars. But nothing in here is especially derivative or dull, and there are a few stand-out gems, like "Stealing Hearts", which is the closest Dame Fate gets to really rocking out. "Don't look at me for answers," Yalan demands, "for I have none." Then the guitar comes in and we're sucked into the world of drugs and sweaters that MTV made popular back in the early nineties...
Overall, Dame Fate provides an enjoyable listening experience. This isn't an accurate representation of those smelly grunge days, but it's close enough -- and besides, do we really need another Hole?