Misadventure of Doomscroller
3.5 stars out of 5
Videos by American Songwriter
Arriving some two years after their last release, Good Luck with Whatever, Dawes’ eighth long-player marks a decided turn in direction from the populist approach they purveyed earlier in their career. Gone are the affable melodies that once singled them out for distinction, and in their place, they substitute kinetic fusion-esque jams that emphasize extended solos, funky rhythms, and melodies that often find them coloring well outside the lines. It’s an admirable effort, but one that may leave some Dawes devotees shaking their heads and pining for the more accessible sounds of those initial offerings.
That’s not to say they negate the accessibility factor entirely. Before it trails off into an instrumental coda and choral-like continuum, the opening track “Someone Else’s Cafe” opts for an upbeat approach that sets a sunny tone for nearly all that follows. Likewise, even the most intricate offerings maintain a melodic presence. “Joke In There Somewhere” comes across as effortlessly enticing, while “Sound That No One Made” brings to mind Dark Side-era Pink Floyd thanks to its ethereal ambiance.
Still, with only seven songs in total, the group feels free to stretch out at the expense of a sound that would likely come across as more concise and cohesive. Clocking in at well over five minutes, “Comes In Waves” and “Everything Is Permanent” are the more obvious examples. Nevertheless, competence and creativity are never in question, even though every one of these numbers requires the listener to allow added indulgence.
This, then, is Dawes at its most experimental, a reflection of a band that’s clearly intent on exploring other possibilities and evolving well beyond their patented approach. Some might consider it a mark of maturity, while others will likely chalk it up to the fact that the band is anxious to progress, stretch their possibilities, and tug at whatever parameters they might have confined themselves to before. It’s certainly not a move employed for commercial considerations, but it is a mark of maturity and an admirable effort at that.
Photo Credit: Ward & Kweskin / Big Hassle