Review Summary: If you had to draw a picture about this record, the outcome would be definitely nothing far from the colourfulness of the real album cover itself...
Imagine a warm and bright day. You go outside your house, see the sun up in the blue sky and right within this moment you know - everything will be alright. This day is yours. You are going to meet your stunning girlfriend, eat some tasty ice cream, take a good walk with her and kiss her tenderly. Imagine a kiss as wonderful and sweet as life itself. As deep as the ocean and with such intensity other couples can only dream of. You know what this feeling is like? Have you really felt it? Then you know how I feel after taking “Let’s Get Dangerous” out of my CD-player.
Back in 2007, Crazy Lucky Recordings, a daughter of Mediaskare – mostly known for metal- and deathcore bands like As Blood Runs Black, Blind Witness, The Ghost Inside, Silent Civilian and Suffokate - signed the newcomer quartet “The Messenger”. “Big mistake” sharp tongues could have said. The sales figures of their debut record “Let’s Get Dangerous” did not go well and also the musical direction our friends from Lakewood, California took other destinations than the label intended. Rumors say they got fired, others say they are still promoted by the label. The bands own MySpace says they are “out of label” at the moment. But why should a label fire such talented musicians, which launched one of the most underrated records in recent music history?
Let’s start the search for clues and retrospection on their debut. Let’s get dangerous.
Normally I am the first to come up when it goes to label bands, but “The Messenger” makes it very difficult for me and thousands of other hearers around the globe to properly nail them down on a genre. “Let’s Get Dangerous” uses a very open-minded mix of Pop-Punk, Alternative Rock and Post-Hardcore. Overall their general sound can be described as happy, charming and innovative. Besides of all this, their debut breathes in a kind of inescapable southern charm which you cannot elude by any means and is conveyed perfectly by their instrumental work. It is unimportant which track you start with, the guitarists will catch you at your weakest point and drag you into the song.
“Sex & John Candy” is a perfect example for this. How cheesy the track names and lyrics may be, you cannot avoid to listen what the song may bring. It is like reading a thriller where the tension is so high that you are not able to stop reading. But the problem of most thrillers is: mainly bad and evil things happen. In LGD, only good and exciting things happen, in terms of music. The songs are filled with happiness and seem to tell a musical story about luckiness, friendship, love and warmth. Even in moments where the instrumentation or vocals become deeper and sadder, e.g. in the E-Drum accompanied ballad “Make Me”, some track beginnings or in the bridge of the stunning “A Gondola Ride In Paris”, the music still remains heartfelt, beautiful and touching. When the lead singer Kim sings “I’m dying just to tell you – I’m in love…” (accompanied by an unknown female voice which seems to be a friend of the band) you are two hundred percent willing to believe him. How cheesy this may sound, but you believe him. The atmosphere created is kind of incommensurable, not least due to the extremely well crafted circus-like intonation shortly before this bridge. I suppose you have to hear and feel it yourself to truly know what I am talking about.
As well you should have an ear on the godly interludes the band uses. They are no own tracks and not really long too, but when track 7 fades into track 8 or especially track 10 into track 11 you will know what I mean. I am missing such effects scarcely in modern music and especially in terms of alt rock/pop punk/post hc such disc-effects seem to be horribly underused.
But not only the guitars on this debut are catchy and constantly offering good ideas, the drumming seems to be from outer space, too. Listen to “Hey, Vanity!” and try to count the fills or gimmicks he plays throughout the whole song beside the main measure. Where e.g. Saosin’s drummer seems to regress and constantly re-evolve, playing all the same beat after beat without innovation at all, this guy over here seems to shine all the time. I showed this record to my own drummer which is pretty decent himself and he endorsed my view that this dude has an awesome groove and some hilariously nice moves up his sleeve.
The vocal section, namely Kim, gets the last praise for today. He has no astonishing wide range, nor does he use some never heard techniques, he is just a pretty fine and solid singer. He is able to range from a post-hardcore-ish screaming, over enchaining whispering & speaking, over mid-tempered rock singing, to angelic high cleans like we find it in the emo section. The difference to other vocalists of the neighbor genres is that his voice is constantly able to convince you about his intentions and feelings. If he is angry, cheery, flirty, thoughtful, doleful, whatever – you will understand him and believe him. Even some of the biggest vocalists in alternative rock or popular punk tend to lack such gift and talent.
But like every coin on earth has its flipside, also “Let’s Get Dangerous” is far from being perfect. The screams are well-meant but in fact turn out to be weak on technical side and are often monotonous. They are perfectly fine audible though when you remind yourself that they are only on the record to accompany the diverse overall picture. The general guitar compositions are charming, innovative and partly use some great ideas but can also be labeled as generic in several moments, as we heard some riffs, effects or other stuff already in other pop-punk(y) acts.
Moreover, some tracks can be seen as fillers, as they cannot keep up with the overall quality of the album, e.g. such as “Latina Heat” which is fine but gets really tiring after a while, “This Eagle Has Landed” which is a horrible opener in my ears and took weeks to grow on me and accept it (over my real opener “A Gondola Ride In Paris”) or the first half of “They Say My Name Is…” that slows the record down too much and could have been cut out smoothly for the great second half of the song. On top of that, the bridge of The Messengers ending track “Passando O Ano Novo Na Praia” is kind of neat but as a whole it seems a bit over the top in my humble opinion – less drama would have worked out better here.
All in all “Let’s Get Dangerous” is a hilariously underrated and fine debut output of a southern style newcomer band that has some minor problems but looks into a bright future if they can find a new label, new fans and a second output that continues the great ideas of their debut and erases the dim areas. At present, the only thing you can do to help them with their intent is to take the first step and give their record a spin. Maybe and most probably it will not be the extraordinary sensation like my kissing-analogy in the opening paragraph, but it cannot be wrong for the meantime and I will politely and candidly guarantee two things to you that the disc is able to deliver by any means:
hella fun and your next summer soundtrack.