Review Summary: The quality of the music is inversely proportional to the quality of the band name.
Though Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is yet another example of the frustratingly bad state of attention-seeking band names (Dananananaykroyd takes the cake), the four songs on their debut EP Horse Power
are good enough to need no such leg-up to garner positive attention. Their namesake, of course, stems from Dale Earnhardt Jr., a NASCAR driver; a sport that, if Formula One were considered the main course – sophisticated, elegant – would stand as the equivalent of drinking mush through a straw. This duo is nothing like the sport their name might associate themselves with though and with the variety shown between just four songs, I’d say they’re going anywhere but in circles.
The best of what’s given to us with this EP consists of a mix of simple electronic pop sensibilities and soothing vocals that are as comfortable in the downtempo, folktronica opener (“Nothing But Our Love”) as they are in the soaring falsetto pop gem that follows it (“Vocal Chords”). The simplicity of it all is the clincher and moments like the “da-da-da” melody of “Simple Girl” are tremendously contagious. The Beach Boys cover “God Only Knows” is the only non-original track of the bunch and it’s a pretty standard affair that doesn’t take any huge twists from the original, which is lovely nonetheless.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. show themselves to be a clever duo with this teaser and the success of slower songs like “Nothing But Our Love” as well as dance numbers like “Vocal Chords” leaves them with a lot of directions to pursue. The fact that this is both a side-project and recorded in a basement is even more a testament to their talent and it’s no wonder the buzz of a thousand restless bloggers has already started to circle. I’d keep my eyes on these guys. Plus, if anything, I’m pretty sure supporting the music earns us the right to complain gratuitously on their last.fm page until they change their name to something more respectable.