The Danger O's - Nineteen Ninety Four
Nineteen Ninety Four is the second release from The Danger O's, and the first featuring one of my best friends from high school, Nick, on drums. Since the recording of this record, another old friend, Abe, has joined on guitar. I'm very happy that they're both playing music and doing something that they love so much. They seem really happy with the new band, and the new record, and I'm proud of them both.
Now, setting personal connections aside, and on to the actual record. The Danger O's play poppy, sometimes dance-inspired indie pop. There are moments that have the heavy bass and drums of more modern bands like Bloc Party, as well as classics like The Police. Lots of spacey, open guitar arpeggios and delayed Edge-inspired lines weave in and out of the complex drum parts. The vocals are hit or miss with me, but when he either really subdues his voices, or pushes it to the higher register, I really like it.
In addition to the standard three piece arrangement, lots of tasteful pianos, synthesizers, hand claps, and various percussion instruments add a lot to the mix, without overdoing it. None of the extra instrumentation is overwhelming, but they all supplement the songs perfectly. You can tell that this is a very well thought out record, and attention was paid to every detail, from instrumentation to vocal effects and harmonies.
There's a certain beauty to the two and a half minute long pop song. The perfect pop song is difficult to achieve, but when you do, there's a reason it's perfect. This is by far the most poppy project that Nick and Abe have been involved in, and they're striving for that perfect pop song. And on this record, there are a number of moments that come close. "Canada" is a song that should wouldn't sound out of place in a WB teen drama or one a romantic comedy movie while the date montage plays. "MFW" bounces along and feels like something The Beatles would write if they were just starting out in 2008. "Doomsday" alternates between a verse that sounds like Quicksand, and a much poppier chorus, and gives a more aggressive edge to the record and provides much needed tension.
The biggest problem the Danger O's have with crafting the perfect 2:30 pop song is that almost every songs pushes 3:30 or 4 minutes. Looking at the tracks, there isn't one shorter than 3 minutes on the entire record. Part of what makes a perfect pop song is the desire for it to keep going - wanting to hear it, even after it's finished. Unfortunately, one thing that I've noticed about a lot of these structures is the repetition of a chorus four or five times, which pushes it a little longer than I would like, and almost seems as if it makes the parts less memorable instead of strengthening the songs. While the songs and parts are generally impressive and solid, a little bit of economy with the choruses may help. Of course, that's just the opinion of a guy who listens to predominantly 2 minute punk rock songs.
All in all, I'm impressed with this record, having never really heard much of the first Danger O's release. I'm happy that my friends are playing such solid music, and enjoying doing it. Aside from the length of the songs (and the lack of lyric insert in the LP!), I have no major complaints about this record. Hopefully big things happen for these guys!