Misadventures Of Doomscroller


Hub Records, 2022


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Dawes goes prog-rock?

Not exactly, but this stylistic shift is certainly not what anyone expected on the band’s eighth album, and that’s what makes it so much fun.  The album is only seven songs but 47 minutes long; do the math and it’ll be no surprise to learn that three of the songs clock in at around nine minutes.

This is still the same laid-back Dawes, mind you, that blends ’70s singer-songwriter soft rock (think Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac) with modern indie, but they have never written anything like the opener “Someone Else’s Café/Doomscroller Tries To Relax,” a multi-part suite with various instrumental solos and sections that somehow hangs together around Taylor Goldsmith’s emotional lyrics. It’s audacious and fun and you’ll want to listen to it several times to discover all the nooks and crannies, but the long guitar solo and the lovely vocal harmonies stand out the most.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Comes In Waves” rides a hard drum beat and a sparse acoustic guitar arpeggio and the potent line “I think I found something in common / with nothingness and God / You stare at either in the face too long / They’ll do each other’s job.” Another electric guitar solo ends the track, which then fades into the upbeat pop of “Everything Is Permanent,” which sounds a bit like a cousin to the band’s excellent 2018 song “Feed The Fire.” Like the opening track, it then moves through multiple solo sections that sound good individually before closing on a pleasant midtempo pop sound. It’s less effective than “Café” but equally as fun, not least because of Goldsmith’s feelings on our current digital age, which he is just old enough to not have been fully a part of for all his life.

The true MVP of the disc might be “Ghost In The Machine”; with a kinetic Southern rock beat, it’s probably the best Allman Brothers-sounding song of the last 20 years by someone other than Gov’t Mule. The guitar riffs and insistent piano all drive the song home and you can feel the energy and fun of the band just letting loose and playing. Not that they’re turning into a jam band or anything, but the looseness is welcome. When it’s missing, as on the substandard “Joke In There Somewhere,” the album suffers.

Things sort of sputter to a close with “Sound That No One Made/Doomscroller Sunrise,” which is the third long track that sort of pastiches together separate songs; this time, they don’t cohere into a memorable whole, and the jamming isn’t as necessary. There are some lovely (albeit bleak) parts about nearing the end of one’s life, ending the album on an acoustic downer; it would have been better served higher up in the runtime, or trimmed by several minutes.

Still, those first four songs are some of Dawes’ best work ever and one of the most fun alt-rock albums to come out in the last year. Anytime a rock band pushes their sound is worth hearing (unless they get into free-form jazz or polka, of course), and the bulk of Misadventures Of Doomscroller makes its case as an invigorating listen that demands attention.

Rating: B

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