See, the thing is, I really love the Dollyrots. They can be one of the best pop-punk bands on the planet, a ball of spinning buzzing sparking glory. And this latest release screws with that.
Here's the problem. I understand the dilemma in which they find themselves. They have two CDs, both of which are great. And they have a decent fan-base. So, now they have to decide, what should they do now? Here are, roughly, the choices:
Some bands do #2 above, like, say, the Ramones. I love the Ramones, but let's be honest here; much of their later work is a retread of their earlier work. If that pisses you off, then replace
And many bands take a stab at #3, with varying levels of success. Want an example of a band that excelled at this, look no further than the Replacements. I'm fond of saying that the 'Mats were a punk band masquerading as a pop band masquerading as a punk band. And, as you move through their discography, you can see all that unfolding, and all the while they never made a bad record.
Sometimes, it's not clear whether it's a success. For every person who loves the Clash's Combat Rock, there's another who thinks
Every band should be shot, before they make their Combat Rock! Or, an even more polarizing example is early Black Flag versus late Black Flag.
The Dollyrots are trying #3 a little here. And that's commendable. But I don't really like any of the changes. Let's take a look at the worst change first:
They're looking like the Kelly Ogden Band.
This really bugs me, because it'll destroy the band. This is a band, with one member who happens to be a cute girl. And, yeah, she's the frontman. (Frontwoman, frontperson?) But she's not the whole damn band.
Take a look at the cover:
Notice the other two band members? No? Me either!
Look, this stuff derailed No Doubt for years. And they knew it was coming. They even explicitly dealt with it in a damn video. And it still screwed them up.
Plus, let's admit it, she doesn't even look good on the cover. She's a cute girl, not a fashion model. Hell, that's her appeal! Now, maybe this is just supposed to be a parody of something about which I'm clueless. Maybe.
They're sounding like the Kelly Ogden Band.
Once you start listening to the album, you'll notice an awful lot of Kelly. Well, sure, she's the singer. But, in past CDs, Luis Cabezas (the guitarist) sings counterpoint vocals. There's some occasional double-tracking of Kelly's voice, but it's subtly done. And the combination of female lead with male counterpoint worked really well.
In A Little Messed Up, Luis gets a couple of chorus shout-outs. That's it. In most of the songs, Kelly is double-tracked, singing with herself, providing her own call-backs. Why why why? And it's a big problem, because...
Kelly's voice isn't up to what they're trying to do.
Many of the songs really hang their hat on her voice. And her voice isn't that versatile. She has this great soft-around-the-edges riot grrrl voice. But, on this CD, they go all baby-doll with it. It doesn't work. She doesn't have the kind of voice that can carry the tunes they want it to carry. And the baby-doll sheen leads into...
The lyrics are pretty bad.
I don't know what the deal is here.
In the bedroom, let's go boom boom? Really?
I don't really know how old they are; I'd guess mid-20s. But, to quote this review, these are
lyrics akin to a 15-year old girl's first attempt at rebellious poetry.
Ouch! But it's true. And it doesn't help that the CD has a heaping helping of sex and relationship songs, none of which really work. Their earlier song
Hysteria packs more sexual punch than anything here.
The CD isn't a total loss. There are some fun tracks, but it doesn't live up to the band's potential. It's frustrating to see them try to change, to become a better band, and instead make a CD that doesn't stand up to the previous two.
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