Overall Score: 8/10 Originality: 6/10 Feel Good Factor: 10/10 Repeat Listen Value: 8/10 Pros: Guaranteed to put a smile on your face | A perfect album for the Summer Cons: Retreading very familiar ground
In their near 20-year history as a band The Dollyrots have become a by-word for all that is good and right in the world of Pop-Punk. Their brand of sunny, upbeat anthems have been a huge hit with audiences all over the globe, year after year, album after album. Their legacy is firmly intact and their place in history assured, but that doesn’t mean that they’re quite done yet.
New album Daydream Explosion finds the duo still at the peak of their powers and showing no sign of slowing down. Opening track ‘Animal’ is the perfect introduction to the band for the uninitiated and a perfect reminder as to why they are so loved by long time fans. It’s fast paced, feel good disposition acts like a hug from your favourite blanket. It always puts a smile on your face, and never lets you down. You know exactly what you’re going to get, and you’re just fine with that.
The opening seconds of ‘Everything’ call back to Green Day’s best riffs but that classic Dollyrots sound soon takes over. That continues into the wonderfully defiant ‘In Your Face,’ while both tracks are catchy as hell.
‘Naked,’ ‘Last Ones On Earth,’ and ‘I Love You Instead’ are all more of the same cheeriness at breakneck speed. With the latter being the undoubted highlight. It’s just a song that makes you smile, and there’s absolutely nothing else to it. There’s no deep meaning to the lyrics, no ‘aren’t I so clever’ wordplay and no stunning technical masterclass on guitar. It’s simple and straightforward and sometimes that’s all music needs to be. There’s so much negativity and snobbery in the world today that has naturally run down into the world of music, and that has meant that a lot of artists have forgotten that music can be fun too. And that’s exactly the gap in your record collection that the Dollyrots are out to fill.
However, it is also important to acknowledge that there is a downside to all of those positives outlined above. Daydream Explosion is spectacularly predictable. This record is pretty much what the band have been producing for nigh on 20 years and they have shown little to no deviation from their winning formula. And that is either their biggest strength or their biggest weakness and depending where you fall on that argument will dictate how much you enjoy the album. If you want some risk-taking, progression and experimenting from your favourite band then you’re not going to find that here, and this record really isn’t for you.
That being said, like bands such as Motorhead and AC/DC before them the Dollyrots have never pretended to be anything other than what they are. They have a fantastic level of self-awareness and that has brought them more than a little good grace with fans down the years. It’s a perfect example of how just being true to yourself and being real will earn you more respect and more fans than pretending to be something that you’re not. If all a band want to be is a happy, uplifting, not overly serious Pop-Punk group, and they deliver just that, how can you hate on them for it?
Although on the what is probably the most predictable album of the year the L.A based duo still manage to throw in a bit of a curveball in the form of ‘Flippy In My Red Dress.’ It’s a complete change of pace, style, and a throwback to the big band swing era of American Music. (Yes, you read that right) And by any logical standard it’s absolutely awful. Except for some reason, it isn’t. It’s weird, off kilter and doesn’t fit with the rest of the album, but for some science defying reason you can’t hate it. You should. You really should. But it’s a real lovable rogue of a tune and renders all of your better reason obsolete.
Thankfully the rest of the album sees the band skip, laugh and dance their way through much more familiar Bowling For Soup tinged territory. ‘Kat’s Meow,’ I Know How To Party’ and ‘Talk Too Much’ are exactly what you’d expect and exactly what you want. The natural bounce to the band’s sound puts a smile on your face before the lyrics even arrive and when they do, they just about manage to sidestep being the cheesiest band on Earth. It’s a close-run thing at times but it’s a tightrope that they walk with aplomb.
However things do flip round a little on final track ‘Daisy’s song’ which is dedicated to the first Lord and Lady of Pop-Punk’s young daughter. It’s slower, more thoughtful and whisper it quietly, more serious. In some ways it’s a strange way to round out such a fast paced and care-free record, but what could be more fast paced and care-free than a little kid?
Daydream Explosion is exactly what you thought it would be, and that is both it’s biggest strength and biggest weakness. There’s no getting away from the fact it’s stunningly predictable and rather one dimensional, but at the same time, it makes stunningly predictable and one-dimensional sound incredible. So, leave your cynicism at the door. Turn off that annoyingly analytical part of your brain. Stop taking music so seriously. And party like it’s 2002.
The Dollyrots new album, Daydream Explosion, is out now on Wicked Cool Records.