REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/30/2011
There is not much to tout about Dotsun Moon other than the fact that their debut record 4 AM isn’t a chore to listen to. Although the band puts a pretty unremarkable performance on their debut, they don’t flounder in their upbeat synthesizer pop mould and try – albeit with utmost trepidation – to go beyond, adding some degree of variety to the group of songs on the album, which is at least interesting.
This Buffalo, NY four-piece sure knows how to make the guitars and bass as absolute necessary accompaniments to execute tracks that were essentially written entirely for the synthesizers. This adds a fresh dynamism to their tracks that don’t have much synth power or songwriting teeth. The ubiquity of the bass lines throughout the record makes up for the lack of depth in the synthesizers or the programmed drumbeats, and bestows a bass-heavy sound that is so essential to electronic music. Even with album’s more exciting tunes – the slightly trippy, slightly industrial “Lovely” and zestfully danceable “Savages” – the guitars make a great difference in making them more alive than they already are.
Undoubtedly, the group’s frequent guitar treatment to synth-based cuts adds much needed spice to 4 AM, but what is even more interesting is the album’s segue into the realm of rock music, which it totally does on three of its cuts, back-to-back. The track “Westwind To The Boulevard” with its melodically dreamy and faintly jarring guitars bears the hallmarks of the Jesus And Mary Chain sound. Rich Flierl, who makes a vocal appearance on this cut (instead of Mary Ognibene, the band’s lead singer), has a tunelessly harsh voice, but adds a perfectly scraggy indie-folk touch to this song. The instrumental “Pedals” that follows, has sweeping guitars, kind of like modern-day U2. “Glory,” one of the album’s best songs, is more melancholic and psychedelic, and is where the band acts upon their instinct to make rock music with brilliance.
Whilst 4 AM is not a disappointing effort, it doesn’t do a convincing enough job to amaze. The band does well in its little mould, resulting in a decent effort, which, however, is nothing to go gaga over.