Review Summary: Live from the Dentist Office showcases an up-and-coming hip-hop trio with an infectious personality and a knack for winning songs.
If Injury Reserve’s debut project is any indication of the group’s potential, there are some great reasons to be excited. First, this Arizona hip-hop trio has a knack for crafting songs that burst with infectious energy in the form of clever wordplay, quirky hooks, and unpredictable structures. Second, it’s refreshing to hear another up-and-coming act with such a striking degree of personality to offer. Injury Reserve clearly are influenced by various forms of jazz rap and atmospheric hip-hop, but they have a certain charm that pushes them slightly left of many of their contemporaries while simultaneously keeping their music fun and inviting.
Live from the Dentist Office
has a sleek and modern sound, which it uses to balance its livelier moments with its smoother, laid-back detours. Parker Corey's glossy production complements both of its MC’s rugged deliveries and provides a high level of interactivity. A perfect example is the loveable opener “Yo”, which brings the horn section in as a stunning jolt of energy once the rapping becomes more powerful. The calm piano-driven beat of “Friday” devolves into messier and dirtier horns and synths as its tale of indulgence grows more sordid. Plus, the tradeoff between Ritchie with a T and Stepa J. Groggs on the verses is just as invigorating. Across the tracklist, the two tackle personal struggles like aimlessness, lust, romance, and persistence. On “Whatever Dude” Ritchie with a T sets his sights on unconditional success with the line “But it’s okay. We gonna make it someday whether it’s 2028 or Sunday.” Given the group’s earnestness and self-aware technique, one can’t help but root for them.
Furthermore, Injury Reserve’s sense of humor resonates incredibly well, maintaining a degree of levity and irrefutable fun. A lot of this immediacy is conveyed through the trio’s hooks, which work well because they remain true to the group’s style rather than acting as overly polished and sugary speed bumps. The hooks on songs like “Whatever Dude”, “Wow”, and “Whiplash” are delightfully catchy and eccentric. “45” is one of the warmest tracks with its smooth jazz skeleton and sing-along refrain. However, not all the tracks are as outgoing. “Washed Up”, for instance, has a more cynical and withdrawn disposition, conveying the viewpoint that everyone around them is on autopilot.
Nonetheless, the portions of the album lack some of the spirit of the highlights. "Washed Up" is interesting in concept, but comes across as a bit limp. The closing track “Falling” is a conceptually clichéd love song that doesn’t quite consummate the album in a satisfying manner. These weaker moments do not derail the excitement of the rest of the album, yet they simply underwhelm at best. There are some enticing tonal shifts however. The airy “ttktv” is an alluring and welcome change-up, and though it grows a tad repetitive by the end of its nearly seven-minute run, it combines a sweet melodic motif with an almost ghostly progression.
Live from the Dentist Office
provides solid entertainment from its euphonic, detailed beats to its animated frontmen. It houses some of the strongest hip-hop songs of the year and has plenty to offer in terms of conflicting moods and subjects. The record is relatable from a lyrical standpoint and ear-grabbing from a production standpoint. Injury Reserve are incredibly genuine, and while they’ve made it clear that they will continue to strive for larger success, this project indicates that they’re closer than they may think.
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