July 19, 2011 - Hopeless
While the Dangerous Summer’s 2009 full-length debut, Reach For The Sun, was a solid if unspectacular alternative-rock album, the sonic similarities to the Starting Line’s output made it hard to wholly embrace on its own merits. Such similarities are not absent on War Paint—AJ Perdomo’s vocals are always going to sound a lot like those of TSL’s Kenny Vasoli—but this time around, they don’t detract from the bigger picture; the band sound far more assured in just about every aspect of their songwriting. However, while certainly catchy and affecting on first exposure, War Paint is definitively a grower, requiring the listener to invest time in it so they can truly appreciate the rich melodies and emotional honesty at its center.
Though they speed things up a little on “No One’s Gonna Need You More” and “In My Room,” the band openly prefer working in mid or slow tempos; without taking the time to get to know the 11 tracks, it’s perhaps easy to mistake the slow-burning approach of some for lethargy. But to have hurried the likes of the aching “Good Things” or the plaintive crawl of “I Should Leave Right Now” would have stripped them of their grace and diminished their impact. Much of War Paint’s strengths, in fact, lie with the gorgeous and understated interplay between guitarists Cody Payne and Bryan Czap—chiming tones ricocheting and colliding one moment and then fusing together into a lushly textured rush the next. The title track, “Everyone Left” and “Siren” stand as particularly fine examples of this, and their powerful choruses rear up from their restrained grooves and shoot for the stars.
While most of the songs boast their own distinct personalities, the whole record feels touched by a melancholy tone that recalls the end of summers past—as if it marks a somewhat sad (yet optimistic) goodbye to a particularly meaningful time in the artists’ lives. The warmth generated by this is genuinely moving, and only grows in potency with successive listens, placing them on a trajectory to maybe one day sit comfortably alongside the likes of Jimmy Eat World and the now defunct Mae, which is a very nice place to be indeed.