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The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Expectations can mess with your mind as a music fan. We all have favorite bands, but there’s a weird sort of contradiction where those favorite bands are also the ones most likely to disappoint us. Hearing a new record from an unfamiliar artist and having it blow the doors off your mind is a wonderful kind of madness, but it’s also impossible to replicate. Loving an album means accumulating baggage with it—the baggage of years and memories and emotions entwined with the songs. When the next album from that same band comes along, it’s easy to feel let down. Even if the record is good—even if it’s great—expecting it to recapture the magic of the first time is a recipe for disappointment. Virtually every band or artist that has ever made a beloved album contends with this cycle eventually, and it’s part of the reason why most bands don’t last very long. It’s also why maybe the only thing more exciting than having that lightning bolt moment with a new band is hearing one of your favorite artists raise the bar, change the game, and shatter every expectation you had of what their music could sound like, circa right now.

    Mother Nature, the fifth LP from The Dangerous Summer, is that kind of album. It takes a band that previously felt like a faded version of its glory days and breathes immense new life into their sound. It makes you excited for this band again, and for what their path might look like going forward. It creates spine-tingling moments of pure catharsis, but in a different way than this band did on their previous beloved albums, 2009’s Reach for the Sun and 2011’s War Paint. And it immediately makes reservations for whole lot of windows-down, sunny-day drives this summer. It’s the right album, at the right time, from a band a lot of people had written off or counted out. And it feels fucking great.

    On their early albums, The Dangerous Summer showed an innate talent for crafting songs that wormed their way inside your soul. On “A Space to Grow,” a song from side one of their first record, frontman AJ Perdomo sang about the kind of art that he wanted to make: art “That hangs on your walls/And plays in your heart/It stays in your arms.” It’s a sentiment that would likely have come across as cocky bullshit from the whole generation of arrogant pop-punkers that came after. But AJ was right: his lyrics did become the stuff of tattoos and heartfelt nostalgia trips. This band so quickly mastered the formula for music that becomes a life soundtrack. Their songs were catchy-as-hell summertime jams, shot through with raw, honest lyrics about growing up and falling in love. The Dangerous Summer were the last great pop-punk band because they recognized that you needed both of those things: the razor-sharp hooks and the lyrics that felt like they were really grappling with something. Most bands that came after them maybe had one of those things down, but never both.

    Mother Nature recaptures that feeling in a way that The Dangerous Summer haven’t been able to achieve consistently since War Paint. Sure, there were songs along the way that did it: “Catholic Girls,” the thrilling, nostalgic opener from 2013’s inconsistent Golden Record; or “This Is Life,” the aching highlight of last year’s solid but somewhat timid self-titled reboot album. Mother Nature isn’t inconsistent and it sure as hell isn’t timid. Right from the jump, you can tell this album is a big swing. The record opens with “Prologue,” which gradually drowns out a voicemail message—left for AJ, by a friend checking in to make sure he’s okay—in a massive wall of guitars. That sonic punch feeds over to “Blind Ambition,” an unabashedly huge song that serves as the album’s bald-faced mission statement. If there was a problem with last year’s self-titled album—a record of which I am a documented fan—it was that it sounded too small and too thin. The dull production didn’t give the songs the muscle they deserved. That’s clearly not going to be a problem this time around.

    Throughout Mother Nature, The Dangerous Summer let what used to make them special shine brightly again. It’s their catchiest album since War Paint, anchored by a batch of pre-release singles—the U2-style stadium sprawl of “Bring Me Back to Life,” the hard-edged howl of “Way Down,” the road-trip-ready “Where Were You When the Sky Opened Up”—that give the record its propulsive momentum. Throughout, the band let the guitars explode again, lending tracks like “Blind Ambition” and the closer “Consequence of Living” their do-or-die stakes. And AJ sings every line like it might be his last, recapturing the emotive urgency of career-highlight tracks like “Never Feel Alone” or “No One’s Gonna Need You More” or “Miscommunication.” “We go under, slip into the unknown, wash our hands of who we were when we were younger/We don’t know why it hurts, we don’t know why it hurts so much,” he sings on “Violent Red.” It’s a song that channels the same stream-of-consciousness feel that defined AJ’s lyrical style on Reach for the Sun, but also one that acknowledges the ten years that have passed since that record. On The Dangerous Summer, AJ sang a lot about the past: about going back home, or wishing all his friends could be together again, or yearning for the unending nights of youth. Here, he’s ready for the next chapter.

    That focus on looking forward rather than looking back leads to the most innovative and daring material The Dangerous Summer have ever recorded. Ever since they perfected their sonic template on Reach for the Sun, the band haven’t deviated from it much, beyond maybe pushing in a slightly more aggressive direction here or there. Mother Nature doesn’t quite throw the rulebook out the window: there are still some vintage Dangerous Summer tunes here, like the very War Paint-esque “Virginia.” But there are definitely a few double-take moments too, like when “Starting Over/Slowing Down” morphs from a wistful slice of piano-and-acoustic perfection into a full-on synth jam, or when the moody title track dissolves into the electronic vocoder swell of “Better Light.” I never thought I’d hear elements of The 1975 or Bon Iver on a Dangerous Summer album, but these flourishes work surprisingly well within the band’s wheelhouse. They combine the signatures of AJ’s vocals and melodies with fresh new territory, helping ground the more familiar moments of the album and giving the record a more dynamic arc than we’ve heard from the band before. Even the flashes of experimentation that aren’t quite as overt, like the little electronic blips that open “Is It Real,” feel fresh and inviting. That track plays like a straight-ahead alt-rock hit from some 20-years-gone 1999 classic, like Blue or There Is Nothing Left to Lose. It creates a warm feeling of nostalgia for summers long past, even though it’s brand new.

    There’s a line in “Consequence of Living,” Mother Nature’s last song, where AJ sings about “Watching the pictures from my memories breathe again.” Listening to this album feels a bit like that—like reconvening with a long-lost friend from the past and realizing you still have a lot of things in common. For a lot of us, Reach for the Sun and War Paint are more than just albums; they’re a part of who we are, part of our identities, part of our DNA. No artist can make albums like that forever—because lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice; because great art is ridiculously difficult to create; and because expectations are a tricky wall to scale once they’ve been built up and fortified. But every once in awhile, one of those favorite bands from our past comes back and makes a pitch to be a favorite band of our present. On Mother Nature, The Dangerous Summer are re-applying to be your favorite band. And for the first time in eight years, they’ve got a damn good argument for why they should be.

    astereo and jorbjorb like this.
  2. justin.

    Trusted Supporter

    Craig Manning and Mr. Serotonin like this.
  3. Ryan G

    Moderator Moderator

  4. Mr. Serotonin

    I'm still staring down the sun Prestigious

    Great review, great album
    Craig Manning likes this.
  5. artbynickferran

    Damn great review for a damn great album. I can't wait to get to know it better and make memories to it.
    Craig Manning and Mr. Serotonin like this.
  6. bmir14

    Regular Supporter

    The dangerous summer is a band i like now
  7. Donnie Ruth

    Trusted Supporter

    Stellar review Craig, as always. Thank you.
  8. KyleAtGalaxy


    Craig Manning and Mr. Serotonin like this.
  9. Pepetito

    Regular Supporter

    Wow. Intrigued.
    Havent been into anything after War Paint but will give this a shot.
  10. web250

    I'll change this eventually Prestigious

    Fantastic review for a wonderful record.
    Craig Manning and Mr. Serotonin like this.
  11. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    This is the super exciting part of it for me. I know I'm going to wear this thing out this summer. Haven't had a surefire summer soundtrack record in a few years, but this is definitely one.

    This is definitely a step up from the last two. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  12. Drew Beringer

    @drewberinger Moderator

    great write-up Craig!
    Craig Manning likes this.
  13. slickdtc

    Regular Supporter

    Holy shit, the 3 singles are like if you brought my favorite parts of their first two LP’s (and that first EP, which was incredible too) and somehow, wrote them today — with the sound, the times, and my own self 10 years older. Definitely feeling a tinge of that magic... but I don’t want to expect it. But I want it so badly.

    Sounds like this carries through the whole new record. Hell of a write up.

  14. sawhney[rusted]2

    I'll write you into all of my songs Supporter

    This is one of the best records the the year, and I wasn’t even that much of a TDS before MN
  15. RileyWitiw

    more like Supporter

    Could be the aoty
    jorbjorb and Craig Manning like this.
  16. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    It's my favorite thing I've heard this year by an extraordinarily wide margin. Haha
  17. RileyWitiw

    more like Supporter

    Copy that!
  18. Jim186


    I’m a huge TDS fan, especially the early stuff, but I’m having some trouble with the production on this record. The vocals and cymbals are compressed to absolute hell. I wish they went for a bit more natural sound on this material. That being said, I’m still pretty excited to hear the full album.
  19. Personally think it's their best sounding album. I keep finding something new to love about it (should out to @Samuel Pura).

    I play it at least twice a day ... still ... and it's cementing itself as a soundtrack to this summer in the best way. As I wrote in last week's newsletter, I love that I love this.
  20. ARo24

    Regular Supporter

    Didn’t care much for these guys in the past but the new songs are amazing. Been jamming them every day. Can’t wait to listen to the whole album.
    Jared Luttrell likes this.
  21. FTank

    Trusted Prestigious

    Great review Craig, always love to hear your thoughts on this band. This is by far my favorite album released so far this year too
    astereo and Mr. Serotonin like this.
  22. JRGComedy

    Trusted Supporter

    And iiiiiiiiiii must be weak

    If you couldn't tell

    I couldn't breathe
  23. DutchDynamite

    Don't live your life like a sad country song

    Great review. Got me excited for this one Really didn't care for their last releases.

    Hope it'll be the summer album I missed the last couple of years, too!
    Mr. Serotonin likes this.
  24. somethingliketj

    And that's why you always leave a note.

    Welp... can't wait to hear this one now.
    Mr. Serotonin and jorbjorb like this.
  25. Jared Luttrell


    Great review, really excited for this.
    Mr. Serotonin likes this.