In all facets of their music, The Dangerous Summer is not noted for their novelty or creativity. Though their debut full-length Reach For The Sun is cherished by many, its instrumentation was simplistic–at times even repetitive–and AJ Perdomo’s lyrical themes were not necessarily groundbreaking. However, what made Reach For The Sun so beloved was its ability to resonate with audiences. Perdomo’s straightforward lyricism was still poignant and has garnered a reputation to uplift its listeners. Additionally, his expressive vocal style oozed passion, suggesting sincere emotion. Now, with the band’s hotly anticipated sophomore effort, War Paint, the band has taken its proven formula and has made some well-advised adjustments. War Paint shows a band that still learning to utilize their best elements, but it also demonstrates needed growth and is ultimately another quality offering.
Above all, War Paint’s most redeeming qualities lie within the band’s improved songwriting. As previously mentioned, Reach For The Sun had composition flaws, with songs featuring similar tempos, feels and instrumentation. Within The Dangerous Summer’s new record, there is a diversity of song structures, ranging from up-beat rockers (“Miscommunication”), to mid-tempo numbers (“Good Things”) to slow, ballad-like songs (“Siren”). The diversity is not merely for show; the band shows the ability to write quality material in each setting. In addition, guitarists Cody Payne and Bryan Czap put their chops to work, utilizing a myriad of chords and riffs to set the appropriate mood. You will not find a trio of songs that begin and sound analogous like in Reach For The Sun. But despite the record’s diverse sonic palette, War Paint reiterates that the band’s true niche lies within mid-tempo songs; some of its strongest songs “War Paint” and “Parachute” adhere to the classic The Dangerous Summer formula.
However, the band’s most noteworthy improvement is the strength of their hooks. Many tracks, including the record’s title track, are immediately accessible even after one listen, a feature that was mostly absent in Reach For The Sun. However, some tracks like “In My Room” shows the band falling into bad habits, stagnating and becoming forgettable amongst the rest of the album. In addition, the drumming, in comparison to the clinic Tyler Minsberg held in Reach For The Sun, is a bit unexciting. Hopefully, in the future, with Minsberg back in the fold, the drums will be brought up to similar levels of technicality. But overall, War Paint, at least from the musical aspect, is a triumph and shows The Dangerous Summer making quality adjustments that will keep them relevant.
Despite the lavish praise that one can shower on the band for their musical improvements, AJ Perdomo’s lyrics–what some consider to be the hallmark of the band’s music–has taken an interesting turn, possibly one for the worst. This is not to say that Perdomo has lost his muse; clearly from all of his life experiences, he still has plenty to say and still strives to achieve his ultimate goal of happiness. Instead, his lyricism has shifted inward, becoming a source of personal catharsis. AJ still has a way with words, but its primary use is to release his own demons as seen in “Siren” when he laments “You swore you’d win the lottery/I really hope it pays/Everything you wanted with your mother/Buy that place you always said you would.” From these lyrics, you can tell that Perdomo is spinning a tale of woe. This loose “story” continues up to the closer “Waves” where AJ reflects upon the future.
Listeners experiencing similar tumult within their romantic relationships will forge a personal connection to War Paint. However, the album just seems to lack Reach For The Sun’s universal theme that is relatable to all audiences experiencing any sort of adversity. The power of Reach For The Sun’s lyrics is that Perdomo seemed to pen the words that perfectly depicted one’s emotions, as if he wrote the songs that every suffering individual dreamt of writing. War Paint’s story is seen through the eyes of Perdomo’s, and this personal involvement consequently restricts the album’s ability to appeal to different audiences. Still, parts of the album, such as the aforementioned “Waves”, “Good Things” and “Parachute”, have lyrics that can impart wisdom to be internalized. The record’s first single, “Work In Progress”, is arguably its diamond, sporting Brand New-esque sonic qualities as well as strong song composition and lyrical significance.
Truthfully, my rating of War Paint is highly conservative. Perhaps, like Reach For The Sun, War Paint is an album that needs time and repetition to see its true value. Conversely, it could be a record that needs to be experienced at a certain juncture of life. However, this is not to discount the overall value of War Paint. Flaws and all, the album shows that The Dangerous Summer is ahead of many of their peers. They continue to fine tune their craft and charge ahead. While some time will have to pass before we see number three from The Dangerous Summer, their potential something to be excited about.
2. Work In Progress
3. No One's Gonna Need You More
4. Good Things
6. Everyone Left
8. I Should Leave Right Now
10. In My Room
The Dangerous Summer is an alternative rock band from Ellicott City, Maryland. The band independently released the five song EP There Is No Such Thing as Science, which drew the attention of Hopeless Records in 2007. They then re-released their debut EP under a new name, If You Could Only Keep Me Alive, with new songs included. The band's debut studio album, Reach for the Sun, was released on May 5, 2009. ... read more