The best type of irony celebrates. On last year’s “Living In America,” DOM deftly built one of the most boisterously anthemic pop songs in recent memory around the ironic notion of celebrating American residency that somehow became a song about the sincere notion of fucking celebrating American residency. It was just as easy to laugh at the chorus’s come-on line of “It’s so sexy to be living in America” as it was to dance in reverent abandon to it. It also helped that DOM proved themselves to be laser-sharp songwriters, arranging infectiously huge synth melodies and unrecognizably distorted guitars beneath the titular Dom’s androgynous crooning. DOM were barely in existence at the time of Sun Bronzed Greek God‘s release and they announced themselves as a very hungry group from the outset.
On their Family of Love EP, DOM settles into a more comfortable and perhaps more confident but less defined and less hungry version of DOM, setting out to broaden the emotional and aesthetic pallet with mostly successful results. The lo-fi hyper compressed bedroom-ness of Sun Bronzed is predictably gone, and with it some of the piss that DOM was immediately recognizable for and gave the Mass group an edge in a world of endlessly woozy synth pop. What’s left are some solid breezy pop songs that show a talent for songwriting and arrangement with some unfulfilled potential left out to dry. It’s also somewhat of a downer summertime record, to its credit, conjuring a mood of yawning warm weather longing that readily solidifies DOM’s lyrical subject-matter: fun, girls (or boys in the case of “Some Boys”), parties, fun, celebrating and the enjoyable nostalgic abandonment in it all.
“Telephone” and the title track start things off with DOM in horizontal relaxation-mode. “Telephone” hinges around a bouncy organ hook and a 60s pop ballad beat, lamenting the romantic dys/function of the device in question (there’s also a telephone solo – novel as fuck and undeniably cool). “Family of Love” is a mid-tempo summer-breeze-in-the-shade affair, with a squelching synth melody and a receding falsetto chorus. “Damn” shows a slight change in direction, throwing a bucket of reverb on the adversely guitar-driven proceedings and recalling contemporaries like Best Coast or anyone with “beach” in their name. “Happy Birthday Party” is the best thing here with its notably DOM in-the-pocket chorus/anthem – rave synths and sparkling guitars playing tag team. It’s also arguably the only ear worm here from a band that, even still in their embryonic stage, is known for them. “Some Boys” is another beachy chamber pop number, rounding things out with a female lead vocal and a catchy syncopated piano.
It’s hard not to miss the vinegar that came packed with Sun Bronzed Greek Gods, but it isn’t the only aspect of Family of Love that causes the EP to pale in comparison to DOM’s debut. There’s an air of slightness across the brief sixteen minutes and the group has a harder time making their recognizable pop aesthetic standout. That’s not to diminish what is here. None of it is forgetful and all of it is more than enjoyable. DOM does still have a prominent identity at play. It’s only a matter of putting some needed earnestness behind it and filling out the newly found space given to them.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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