The Dangerous Summer
Mother Nature


4.4
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
June 16th, 2019 | 148 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "This is what it feels like to bloom."

"This shit is so sick", murmurs Ben Cato over the beginning of "It Is Real", and folks, he's not wrong. From a band who seemed condemned to flicker - though admittedly bright as hell - and then fade into the annals of pop-punk history as just another one with potential they never quite achieved, comes a warm surprise in Mother Nature. It's a clear drink of water, a dip in a stream from a dozen tributaries that unites to take you exactly where you need to go. In other words, the kind of bold, refreshing change of pace that can only come from a band hitting an unexpected peak.

Mother Nature is a rare album which constantly balances on a pin head, making flow and clarity its ethos. For example, "Bring Me Back to Life" is a flashing neon sign that this is not the same Dangerous Summer who underwhelmed with last year's comeback, pairing a fantastic AJ chorus with a dancing synth which accomplishes in four minutes what Angels & Airwaves have been missing for 10 years. There's barely time for breath before a drum snap announces "Way Down", where AJ Perdomo's distinctive near-scream is refined and fully in control, light years from the scratchy vocalist who cut across Golden Record with vitriol. Surefire fan pleasers "Virginia" and "Violent Red", cleaner reinvention of the Golden Record sound and straight throwback to War Paint respectively, are perfectly placed as bookends to the boldest tracks any pop-punk band's dropped in years.

You'll probably be reading about "Starting Over / Slow Down" a fair bit, so might as well get used to it: this piano-tinged ballad builds elegantly to two ebullient, duelling hooks which could easily carry an entire song, only to then switch gears into an uptempo synth rock banger. It's the centrepiece to end all centrepieces, and proof positive of the influence a producer – in this case Samuel Pura, simply suggesting the band combine two demos which weren't working in isolation, creating one of their best songs in the process – has on transforming a band's landscape. "Where Were You When the Sky Opened Up", sleeper highlight of the entire album, pairs addictive folky melodies that Ace Enders might have written for I Can Make A Mess... with U2-sized stadium rock ambition. Rounding out this trilogy is "It Is Real", a straight pop tune built on chintsy Casio keyboard beat not miles away from Bad Books' "Forest Whitaker", reflecting on the music industry and label pressures. Play those songs for a fan who'd checked out after Reach for the Sun and they'd hardly recognise the band; play them in context of the album and everything makes sense, clicked into place by a clarity of vision and dedication to crafting transitions.

Artistic reinventions are all and well, but I imagine most of us gravitated to The Dangerous Summer's orbit due to AJ Perdomo. With his winning combination of half-yelled cleans and honest, pragmatic lyrics which cut through the melodrama and posturing of this genre, Perdomo showed insane promise from the start, and late in Mother Nature is where that promise arrives in its fullest. The title track, lyrically outstripping anything in the last five years of pop-punk not written by Dan Campbell, functions almost as a non-religious prayer/mantra, frankly and with delicacy examining the process of returning to home, and the changeable nature of that landscape. It culminates in a moment of Perdomo alone, dwarfed by the power of nature and yet given over to it, which should give even the stone-hearted reason to pause and take the music in.

"In the infinite forest, in the bottomless light
through the rain of the morning, through the cracks in the sky
you let it all enfold you, you let it all swallow you
you surrender the pain left behind those eyes... you have to let that change you."


I have an image in my head of The Dangerous Summer as careful craftsmen, elder statesmen of a scene you're not supposed to age or evolve within. No longer working off one blueprint for a whole album, but reinventing the formula for every song, every minute made with care and attention. It's there in the slight quickening of the vocal melody in the bridge of "Where Were You..." which subtly kicks the song into another gear. It's there in songs which use a chorus only twice and then crest to a different climax instead, making the most of Perdomo's ability to write both a mammoth hook and an emotional wringer of a bridge, going against the pop-punk formula in small but appreciable ways. It's there in the voicemail in "Prologue", not gratuitous but essential to the entire album. In a little over a minute, this track establishes the need for rebuilding lost connections, as succinctly summed up in the chorus "can you let me know you're holding on?", as well as themes of renewal as linked to Perdomo's daughter Luna, "wash[ing...] hands of who we were when we were younger". It's most of all there in the purifying, cauterising cleanse of Perdomo's screams through autotune at the end of "Better Light", fracturing this album's clear, consistent vision into a million pieces and bringing them back together.

On the self-titled album it felt like AJ was constricted, writing about his inability to leave places and situations, and the band and production was restricted with him. Mother Nature is really just the construction of steadier, taller buildings on that foundation; the album's polish not masking lesser songwriting or a concession to radio play, but a deliberate transformation from the sore throats and headaches of their younger days. When "Better Living" concludes and the strains of autotune wash into "Consequence of Living", where the summer-hazy guitar is straight out of Reach for the Sun, the brilliance and ambition of this album's journey becomes clear. Any old band can evolve – a respectable thing to do, sure, but not unique. The Dangerous Summer do something quite different on Mother Nature. They go so far to "bury my old heart there", only to come back to where they started from, and neither band nor listener are unchanged by the journey. Or, you know, I can just let the man say it himself: "This is what it feels like to bloom."



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user ratings (124)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2019


42196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

@joshieboy sup

Digging: Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein - Stranger Things 3

Atari
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2019


24716 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Oh shit, here it is :]



Fantastic writing, Row! Couldn’t agree more with this review and I’m glad you covered it

Digging: Telethon - Hard Pop

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
June 16th 2019


7404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yooooo



Pos

Digging: Joliette - Luz Devora

dmathias52
June 16th 2019


649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes! This review has me considering bumping this to a 4.5. The musical evolution I’ve wanted from them for so long, all while still undoubtedly being The Dangerous Summer.

Digging: Her Name Is Calla - Animal Choir

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2019


42196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

I genuinely cannot get over how good the title track is, in five years we'll be calling it a genre classic.

NorwichScene
June 16th 2019


2893 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Reach for the sun still their best

Nbehre11
June 16th 2019


188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This makes me so excited to listen to vinyl tomorrow when it arrives, great review!

Digging: The Dangerous Summer - Mother Nature

Gyromania
June 16th 2019


27980 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

haven't heard anything by them. is this a good place to start?



dmathias52
June 16th 2019


649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You into pop punk Gyro? If not, I think this is a good place to start, cause it’s different from their past sound. If you do like pop punk, Reach for the Sun and War Paint are two brilliant albums in the genre. This one changes up their sound quite a bit.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2019


42196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

yeah gyro this is probably the best start, it brings in more alternative and indie influences (some transitions remind me of Foxing, tbh) that I think you'd dig. their early stuff is excellent with nostalgia but going in fresh to them maybe would dull the impact

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
June 16th 2019


7404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gyro their other stuff is boring compared to this

dmathias52
June 16th 2019


649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Or there’s also that lol. But yeah nostalgia factor is big for these guys

TooManyFriends
June 16th 2019


3076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

didn't think it would be possible for this band to create an album roughly as meaningful to my life as RFTS and War Paint were 8 years ago. they did it somehow. gr8 review

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2019


42196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

thanks my man and yeah much the same feelings lol. the fact that this tops War Paint for me is ridiculous but here we are



(surprised no s/t defenders have started jumping on me yet... I'm sure Sowing is hiring assassins as we speak)

JS19
June 16th 2019


7228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

s/t was great, this is great, band is great, no beef here

Digging: Alarmist - Sequesterer

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2019


42196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

I appreciate little things about this album more and more I listen to it. this listen: the way "I wanna drown to death", in isolation undeniably a surprisingly clumsy line from AJ, pays off in the final song when he describes his two dreams, "one in which I'm drowning and then one in which I'm beginning to start over new". such a small but powerful payoff when you realise it's there



also, best tidbit from Pura's AMA on chorus (which I 100% recommend reading if you're a fan of this album, you'll love it even more): the label mandated they write two 'acoustic ballads', the band said fuck that and Pura gave them suggestions which turned into "Starting Over / Slow Down" and "Better Light". imagine arguably the two best tracks on your album coming about because your label wanted some cheesy ballads for the Hot Topic crowd and you make "Better Light" instead. madmen

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
June 16th 2019


7404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Those are without a doubt the 2 best songs imo that’s wild lol

Gyromania
June 16th 2019


27980 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah i'm not overly into pop punk but there is stuff in the genre i consider amazing (say anything is a real boy comes to mind).

Gyromania
June 16th 2019


27980 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

schmaltz from spanish love songs is prob the most recent pop punk i've rly liked

onionbubs
June 16th 2019


11615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is the best pop punk album (or at least album from a pop punk band) this year and best since the alkaline trio album last year probably

Digging: Anberlin - Devotion



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