Dads - Pretty Good EP
Record Label: 6131 Records
Release Date: August 6, 2013
It’s only been a matter of twelve months since the name Dads began meaning anything other than that man on our family tree who likes building things and team sports, but it feels like they’re already a permanent staple of modern emo music. Recently voted emo champions over on Property Of Zack, somewhat liked by indie kingpin makers Pitchfork and just generally stealing hearts all over the world, Dads are on a winning streak. Pretty Good is another release from the New Jersey duo and it lives up both to its title and the standard that we’ve come to expect from Dads. Made to celebrate the duo’s signing to 6131 Records, the four tracks presented to us here will happily bridge the gap from their, once again aptly titled, debut album, American Radass (this is important) to whatever the future holds for one of the best bands in the genre at the moment.
Whilst Pretty Good isn’t too much of a change from the sound of their debut LP, there’s a handful of subtle differences. Ignoring the somewhat startling opener for a while, half of this EP is a return to Dads’ unique combination of high speed, punky music and midwest emo twinkles. However, this time round the vocals are that bit crisper, the lyrics are that bit sharper and the instrumentation is that bit clearer. It’s a cleaner version of what we’ve heard before, but don’t worry, Dads make it work. Better production doesn’t just make them shinier, it means we get to hear what they’re doing that bit sharper. And by jove, what they’re doing is good. The middle two, “Can I Be Yr Deadbeat Boyfriend” and “Boat Rich” fit perfectly alongside what many other whatever-th wave emo bands are doing, but still manage to do it better than anyone else. The former’s energising instrumentation and infectious beat is almost dance-worthy and the unusual lyricism -“You can break my bones; but you’re never coming home”- makes the track both memorable and fun. “Boat Rich” is catchier, more mid-paced and makes for perfect single material. The narrative lyrics are as engaging and easy to relate with as usual, with lines like “I’m finally realising home doesn’t have an address” managing to lodge themselves in your brain whilst providing perfect “THAT’S HOW I FEEL!!” material.
However, it’s not surprising that Dads were going to be great at what Dads are great at. The two ends of the EP display a new side of the duo and possibly a new direction for the band. Opener “My Crass Patch” is weird as fuck to hear from an emo band and closer “No We’re Not Actually” is different to what we expect from the band for opposite reasons. Whilst the opener kicks off the EP like a brick to the head for anyone waiting for twinkles, its grunge-y heaviness is ingenious. Verging on angry, the darkness of the track and the headfuck ending show that Dads mean business and unlike many of their peers, they have no intention of selling us the same song over and over. Yes, it’s a surprise, but when teamed with the tracks that follow it, its a reminder that this EP is about transition and an exciting one at that. The closer, “No We’re Not Actually” is up there as one of the strongest songs this duo has ever written. Slow and winding, it’s an emotive builder with some of the EP’s best lyrics. “Everything will be fine, as long as we say so” and the shouts of “don’t die on me yet” are begging to pull tears out of even the toughest listener and the explosive crescendo is so epic, so goosebump inspiring that, by the end of its five minutes, all that matters in the world is hearing the song again.
Whilst this is a long review for only four tracks, Dads deserve every last word. This is the EP that shows to the world that this isn’t a genre to be confined to basements and house shows. John Bradley and Scott Scharinger are truly skilled musicians and songwriters. Despite their constant self-deprecation and witty album and song titles, this is music to be taken very, very seriously. If you haven’t checked Dads out previously, Pretty Good is the place to start. It doesn’t matter what your favourite type of music, Dads may surprise you.
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I couldn't get over this listening to the album. So many messy fills, off beat hits, etc. The builds in "No We're Not Actually" around 2:30 and 4:40 are super off -- times when the kick, snare, or tom are supposed to hit at the same time, it's just not there.
I genuinely like this band, and this EP definitely has some of the best songwriting they've ever done, but the drums are very distracting to me. I guess there's something to be said that they could have edited them and chose not to, but this just isn't good playing. It distracts and detracts.