Review Summary: It turns out releasing the same album over and over again does eventually get boring.
It’s pretty much impossible to argue that The Dangerous Summer are a unique
band. They have never striven to reinvent the wheel of alternative rock. They’ve never even really tried to reinvent the wheel when it comes to their own sound. They captured lightning in a bottle with their first two releases (and criminally underrated early EP), mastering the popular genre of catchy, angsty alternative rock that comes dangerously close to being optimistic. Some inner band turmoil led to a slight decline in quality (although still incredibly solid) and eventually led to a hiatus. When the band returned, they came back fresh, renewed, and released a couple albums and an EP worth of catchy, angsty alternative rock that comes dangerously close to being optimistic. 2019’s Mother Nature
, their most recent full length, showed some signs of change, adding piano, electronic flourishes where before there was just guitar, bass, and drums, and playing with song structure in a way that they had been hesitant to do on their previous releases, which did bring some excitement about what the band might do in the future. Cue Coming Home
, their newest full length that, unfortunately to no one’s surprise, consists of catchy, angsty alternative rock that comes dangerously close to being optimistic.
However, biggest difference between Coming Home
and the band’s other previous releases is that the lightning appears to have slightly escaped the bottle. There are a couple of songs on the record that could rate among the band’s best and there are (arguably) no downright bad songs here, but outside of the couple of highlights, pretty much every song on Coming Home
would rank among the worst on each of the band’s previous albums, even their weakest. The choruses aren’t quite as strong, AJ Perdomo’s lyrics, typically a highlight of the band, range from as strong as expected to forgettable to downright uncomfortable. They still maintain some of the piano and electronics from Mother Nature, but there are no “surprising” songs in terms of their approach to writing them. If anything, Coming Home
sounds like the natural predecessor to Mother Nature
as opposed to a sequel, as the band has mostly returned to their tried-and-true comfort zone. The use of additional instruments, particularly piano, and even a full acoustic song means that Coming Home
can’t be confused with the band’s early work. But we are back to a largely verse-chorus-verse-chorus-brige-chorus structure and, while that mostly works due to the band’s songwriting abilities, it rarely feel exciting or engaging.
With that all being said, are some undeniable career highs for the band here. “Sideways” is a quintessential The Dangerous Summer song with the best chorus on the album and perhaps the strongest vocal performance of Perdomo’s career. A falsetto has been something he has rarely if ever utilized and it is somewhat surprising that his gruff and unique vocals are even capable of one, but it is incorporated very well throughout the album and particularly in “Sideways”. The Dangerous Summer have also always been a master of slow build ballads and “Meet Me in the Morning” is the best the band has produced since “Northern Lights”, a cut from Reach for the Sun
, although Perdomo’s clunky yet earnest Spanish singing of the song title is sure to divide listeners. Of every other song on the album, the opening title track is perhaps the only other song that will make it into the canon of great songs in the band’s discography.
The rest of the album just seems to get the rote mechanics down, and while there does seem to certainly be a genuine impassioned performance there, they don’t quite give the emotional payoff that is needed for this basic structure to be excused, as it was on their earlier albums. The only song that could be argued to be “bad” would be “Someday”, but its biggest sin is its awkward and uncomfortable lyrics. “She let’s me go in her mouth
” will forever be uncomfortable to hear and I’m not sure what the intended purpose of repeating “Someday I’ll learn to treat her right
”, is, but it certainly does make for a morally gray listening space that is not a great one to reside in. However, the song itself is, at its worst, just boring; a building ballad that forgot to actually build. The rest of that album doesn’t have that problem, as it's fairly engaging to listen to when it's on, but once it’s over, no songs really stick in your head and it’s hard to think of a reason to turn it back on. For longtime listeners of The Dangerous Summer, it will just make you want to listen to the band at their strongest and it just won’t serve as a great introduction for newcomers to the band. From the way the band has talked about it, Coming Home
seems to be an album that was very important to them, which is a wonderful and powerful thing. Unfortunately, for those of all that weren’t involved with the making of the album, that wonder and power didn’t seem to translate to the actual music itself.