Review Summary: Musically? Better than ever. Emotionally....?
It’s not a stretch in any sense of the word to call The Dangerous Summer “emotional”. Quite the contrary, actually; for the entirety of their career, the band has excelled at writing relatable, impassioned songs that hit just as hard in your heart as they do in your ears.
Of course, we can’t even begin to speak about that aspect of the band without mentioning their frontman and sentimental core, vocalist AJ Perdomo. It’s exceedingly possible that there is no one in the alternative rock world as good as Perdomo at projecting what they feel in such a heart-on-their-sleeve fashion, as evidenced by his often strained, occasionally unstable vocal delivery, and his ability to write lyrics so unbelievably honest and out-front you’d swear the song was written just for you. Make no mistake, this part of the band has not gone away on Golden Record
, which is far and away the darkest album the band has ever put to paper.
While the band’s second outing, War Paint
, was criticized for sounding too similar sonically to their first album Reach for the Sun
, they’ve made a marked improvement in that department on Golden Record
. It’s difficult to picture “Drowning” and “Knives” fitting in on either of their previous records, specifically the latter, which is almost certainly the bleakest, most grim song they’ve created to date. Perdomo should also take some credit (or blame?) for this change, as on Golden Record
, his voice is more strained than ever; it's not unfitting, however, often working with the gritty source material like the aforementioned “Knives” to near perfection. The album is not all gloomy and somber, though, as it absolutely has its share of “classic” Dangerous Summer songs. The most notable is certainly “Miles Apart”, with its bombastic chorus, reverberated guitar effects, and passionate vocal and lyrical delivery from Perdomo all harkening back to their prior work.
As for Perdomo’s bandmates, one can rest assured that the lineup changes the band has recently undergone have not tinkered way too much with their sound. New axe man Matt Kennedy absolutely kills it from start to finish, delivering tasteful licks on songs like “Into the Comfort” while still maintaining the chemistry with Perdomo that previous guitarist Bryan Czap always had. New drummer Ben Cato is an ace behind the kit, bringing a masterful combination of the drumming chops and technicality on Reach for the Sun
(see “Catholic Girls) and the straightforward grooves of War Paint
. When the band is operating at peak capacity as they do on closer “Anchor”, a throwback to Reach for the Sun
reminiscent of that album’s stellar closer “Never Feel Alone”, there’s almost nothing more satisfying.
is certainly not flawless, however, and my main gripe with the album has to do with the emotional aspect previously mentioned. It’s extremely difficult to discern what it is, but on the band’s first two album’s, there was always this present combination of Perdomo’s poignant delivery and instrumentation that just hit home almost every single time, which is probably why Reach for the Sun
is considered their masterwork; yeah, the songs all sound kind of similar, but they display such a wide range of emotions, whether happy, sad, or completely depressed, that it just tugs relentlessly at the listener’s heartstrings. Yeah, Golden Record
has that…. to an extent. When you listen to songs like “Drowning” and “I’m So Pathetic”, however, it just isn’t there. And that’s what kills the most; that emotional aspect this band has always possessed in some way or another, without ever really trying, is not present for a large portion of this album. This will probably be the reason people will always look back with fonder memories of Reach for the Sun
and War Paint
than Golden Record
Don’t get me wrong, as Golden Record
is a good record; a great one, actually. But while one could easily write it off as being too emotionally attached to their previous albums, Golden Record
is not on the same emotional level as they once were and it’ll be tough to get to the level their first two albums are at until they re-establish that connection. Golden Record
ultimately succeeds, however, as musical growth for a band accused of stagnation. This is the best they have ever been musically, no doubt; and if we can ever get a record out of them with the musical prowess of this album and the sentimental power of their previous ones, it will truly be something special.