The Dangerous Summer
Mother Nature


2.5
average

Review

by Jack Fraser USER (25 Reviews)
June 18th, 2019 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You really want to know just what I think? You're lost.

The Dangerous Summer are a band that meant a lot to me when I was in high school, whose songs I played dozens of times more than the more Sophisticated and Serious bands I was a fan of. Reach for the Sun was unapologetically earnest and undeniably corny, but gripped me with its clear and cohesive sound that fell somewhere between “last nights of summer pop-punk” and “’One Tree Hill’ soundtrack.” The band took a step forward on their follow-up War Paint, adding a tasteful layer of grit and depth to their sound and delivering a series of unrelenting anthems (if sometimes a bit too unrelenting). 2013’s Golden Record, which came out the summer I graduated, amplified that sound to an extreme, an exhausting onslaught that was difficult to get through without a headache (and some second-hand throat pain). By this point the group’s songwriting formula had become clear: pounding mid-tempo drums with lots of toms, chiming guitars (for maximum emotional impact), and various combinations of the same four chords with plenty of dim7s thrown in. The band’s 2017 self-titled comeback record stretched this template to its limit: The Dangerous Summer sounded like the output of a machine learning program fed the band’s first three records – and not a particularly advanced one either. There’s no doubt it’s a strong foundation, and it provided the band with both a distinct sound and the power to spontaneously snap the listener into sepia-toned nostalgia. But Mother Nature reminds me of a friend of mine from high school, still driving the barely-running car he drove me to prom in but bragging about his new stereo. Sure it brings back memories, but there comes a time when you just gotta get a new car.

Once again, the Dangerous Summer’s core problem is still that they just can’t write a new song. Even as they try on new costumes – grit on Golden Record, pop sheen on The Dangerous Summer, and some electronics on here – they return to the comfort and security of the same chord progressions and vocal melodies over and over again. This issue is magnified on Mother Nature, which clearly makes a point of trying new sounds but constantly retreats back to the safety of the same old I, vi, and IV chords. An immediate example is the opening track “Prologue,” which offers something new right away – a tone-setting voice message intro. And then the instrumental comes in, and it’s the same damn I-IVdim7 progression as always. Over the course of the record (and especially over the course of five records) this gets extremely frustrating; by the time “Starting Over”confidently presents songwriting that would sound tired by the back half of Reach for the Sun it’s almost a distraction. The vocals are the same way: Perdomo’s melodies are predictable and hit the same beats again and again and again.

Mother Nature instrumentally is clearly a direct descendent of Reach for the Sun, but in many places veers more closely to Warped Tour pop-punk than even that record. “Virginia” is the clearest example, sounding more like a band that would open for the Dangerous Summer than the band themselves. “Way Down” brings Greatest Generation-era Wonder Years to mind, while “Where Were You When the Sky Opened Up” evokes the All-American Rejects’ MSN-away-message-classic “Move Along.” 2019 seems like an odd time for the band to reclaim the pop-punk bona fides that they outgrew almost a decade ago, and somehow the squeaky-clean adult-contemporary sound of “Bring Me Back to Life” seems like a more natural fit at this point. That unapologetic cleanliness also makes the grittier passages sound more comical than refreshing. When heavy guitars do come in, they sound sterile, as in the unsatisfying climax of the title track, and the studio chatter and amp noises between tracks is particularly jarring when sandwiched between songs that sound about as far away from raw and live as possible.

Other new sounds wax and wane throughout Mother Nature. Particularly striking are the electronics drenching “Better Light” and animating the second half of “Slow Down.” While these are tastefully done and certainly more engaging than more reverbed guitars, they’re more of a fresh coat of paint than a change of DNA. Compared to an album like Anberlin’s Vital, which essentially reanimated that band’s sound, these effects are flourishes, keyboards playing guitar parts rather than elements that challenge the Dangerous Summer to try new things. Nonetheless, there are admittedly moments, particularly in the back-to-back “It is Real” and “Violent Red” where those tectonic plates finally shift and the band seems to break new ground from a songwriting perspective. However, while the different progressions are certainly welcome, the results aren’t particularly compelling, and the songwriting sounds immediately shaky as soon as it strays from the comfort of the template.

Mother Nature is not a bad album – it’s very listenable, often pleasant, and occasionally shards of nostalgia manage to pierce through and bring the listener back to the first time they heard Reach for the Sun. It might be that in 2019 there’s little reason for the Dangerous Summer to really try something new – “Blind Ambition” will sound natural between “No One’s Gonna Need You More” and “Catholic Girls” on stage, and maybe that’s all that really matters. But five albums in, the comfort of the template is more evident and distracting than ever.



Recent reviews by this author
R.E.M. Out of TimeR.E.M. Green
R.E.M. DocumentR.E.M. Lifes Rich Pageant
R.E.M. Fables of the ReconstructionR.E.M. Reckoning
user ratings (124)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Rowan5215 STAFF (4.4)
"This is what it feels like to bloom."...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Point1
June 18th 2019


617 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

1. i'm sorry

2. breaking up the REM combo hurt but I really really wanted to review this. I'll get back on the REM train when I get back home in September.



dmathias52
June 18th 2019


649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

While I don’t necessarily agree, this is well-written and interesting! I get the argument you’re making for sure, but the variation they include is more than enough for me. I’m also not as well versed in the technical side of music though, so that could be a benefit on my end.

Digging: Her Name Is Calla - Animal Choir

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2019


42191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

I'm kind of confused by the argument of this review, even though it is written very well - you acknowledge the four or five songs here which are stylistically different from their previous material in notable ways, but that's not enough of a departure from their template because they don't play new chords? Aren't the total structural diversions, or outright genre changes more important to a perception of template than whatever the chords are doing?

Digging: Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein - Stranger Things 3

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2019


42191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

(Especially weird to use Anberlin's Vital as a comparison when, imo, that record just slathered some electronics on their normal sound and called it a new style, the complete opposite of what I hear happening here. But again, good review)

Point1
June 18th 2019


617 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

1. In my mind, the combination of chord progression + vocal melodies (core songwriting) are the basic elements of songs, and even when tempo shifts/keyboards are on/etc. that's what jumps out at me. Even when this album "changes up" (with the somewhat exception of those two I pointed out) I think it's very surface level and the songwriting itself has stayed the same. For me it's distracting and completely pulls me out of the album. I'm totally fine with a band having a sound (I mean, Interpol's my favourite band for god's sake) but I can't think of anyone as egregious with songwriting homogeneity than the Dangerous Summer.



2. I guess we'll have to agree to be opposites haha. For example "Self-Starter" or "Other Side" or especially "Intentions" are totally different from anything else they made and it's because of the electronics. They sound distinctly Anberlin but are fundamentally new and fresh to me.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2019


42191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

yeah I'd def have to disagree, up until a few weeks ago I had no idea this band would be capable of something like the Starting Over/ Slow Down transition, It Is Real, Better Light and so on, let alone the songwriting would be good enough that those songs would flow with ones more reminiscent of their older sound perfectly. I had exactly the problem you have here with their self titled, tbf, and this to me is a breath of fresh air in every possible way, I'm still reeling from it

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2019


42191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

I know this is not the point of the thread either but man what's the big deal with Vital? Self-starter is just Godspeed with some synth tacked on and that basically sets the template for the whole album to me. My favourite songs from that era are actually the bonus ones only on Devotion, that's the only time I felt a significant change in their sound at all

Pikazilla
June 18th 2019


1350 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

I was waiting for someone's alternate take on this album. Point1, I agree with you that the album's pacing and changes are dull and very surface level. And that's coming from a guy who's been mainly listening to post-rock and ambient electronic music for the past week and a half.

Point1
June 18th 2019


617 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I almost couldn't disagree with you more Rowan, I don't like a single one of the Devotion songs (or their final album) and "Little Tyrants" is Godspeed, not Self-Starter.

onionbubs
June 18th 2019


11614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

saying these songs all have the same chord progression is a massive stretch as well one that doesn’t make nearly as much sense in a genre that abuses the same chord progressions over and over again



like this is an album by a pop punk band how many different chord progressions did you expect going into this these songs do more than enough to rise above that inherent creative handicap the genre is usually hindered by through stronger melodies lyrics and integration of electronics in a way that expands on their sound instead of feeling like a gimmick

Digging: Anberlin - Devotion

Point1
June 18th 2019


617 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I listen to plenty of pop punk thanks. This band's songwriting is and has pretty much always been completely one-note and predictable relative to other bands in the scene and in general. I'm fine with simple songwriting, and even consistent songwriting. What bothers me is a band using the same chord changes again and again and again ad nauseum. Especially when they always adorn those progressions with the same chimy lead guitar parts. It's boring, and uncreative, and honestly distracting.



And I mean I just straight up disagree with the last part of your point - I don't think the melodies here are strong at all and I think the electronics are a gimmick, as I say in the review. You can disagree with that if you want, but don't act as though I'm just missing out on these objective facts.



I'm glad you like the album. I wish I did too.

onionbubs
June 18th 2019


11614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

blind ambition - 1 4 progression in verses, 1 4 6 5 progression in chorus

bring me back to life - 1 6 4 progression in verses, 6 4 1 5 progression in chorus

way down - 1 2 4 (and like a 7 1 thing at the end) progression basically the whole song

virginia - 1 3 4 5 in verses, 1 5 6 4 progression in chorus, 6 3 4 1 progression in bridge

starting over/slow down - 1 4 6 5 in starting over, 4 6 3 5 in slow down



in the first half of the album, there is one repeat chord progression, and the spacing and context of them is different enough to not be too noticeable plus it’s a common pop chord progression which shouldn’t be a surprise for a pop punk band

onionbubs
June 18th 2019


11614 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it’s a well written review gonna pos i’m just kinda struggling to see a few of these points

joshieboy
June 19th 2019


6736 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pos, but disagree with a lot of your points

nightbringer
June 19th 2019


431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This review has prompted some good discussion at least, enjoyed reading this page.

Point1
June 19th 2019


617 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I will say one positive thing I didn't touch on in the review: the drumming is very good on here. Considering that Golden Record is potentially my least favorite drumming on an album ever I am impressed by that.

ToastSandwich1
June 20th 2019


11 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm glad I don't get hung up on stuff like 'chord progression'. Didn't cross my mind once when listening to this.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy