Dawes Passwords Vinyl

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Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith has always been the kind of insightful singer/songwriter whose lyrics read a lot like poetry. They're like thoughtful journal entries turned into literate, symbol-heavy songs rife with self-effacing revelations and timely insights into the state of the world. So it makes sense that the band's sixth studio album, the aptly titled Passwords, finds Goldsmith investigating notions of communication -- with ourselves and with each other, both successfully and pathetically -- and the myriad ways our social media-frenzied climate can make the truth feel so elusive. He addresses this theme explicitly on the crunchy midtempo opener, "Living in the Future." Singing in a hushed deadpan delivery, he sneers "It's the battle of the passwords/It's the trumpets on the hill/It's that constant paranoia/It's the final fire drill." While he certainly imbues the rest of the album with an equally ominous sense of big-brother fatigue, the warmth and innate humanity at the core of each song lighten the tone. Helping achieve this balance is a longtime associate of the band, Laurel Canyon-based producer Jonathan Wilson. Working together, they've crafted a somewhat low-key album, full of gently rendered melodies and sophisticated arrangements. Dawes accent their twangy West Coast sound with glassy synthesizers, slippery, Eric Clapton-esque guitars, and jazzy piano lines, smartly evoking the '80s adult contemporary albums of artists like Bruce Hornsby, Fleetwood Mac, and Steve Winwood. The sound fits the dusky, introspective tone of songs like "Stay Down" and "Crack the Case," in which Goldsmith compares modern communication to a "sick version of telephone." Elsewhere, as on "Feed the Fire," he turns his critical eye inward, suspiciously dissecting his own fame and privilege. Similarly, on "Stay Down" he admits that drinking "micheladas in the afternoon" and hiding from reality (and perhaps more specifically the Internet) is often preferable to engaging with it. He sings "Stay down/'Til the smoke has been cleared/And your name can't be found." As dark as Goldsmith gets on Passwords, he remains hopeful, even romantic, summoning images of Romeo and Juliet and "Cusack holding that stereo" on the tender love song "Never Gonna Say Goodbye." It's that bittersweet message of hope for humanity on Passwords that resonates the strongest. ~ Matt Collar

  • Format: Vinyl
  • Genre: Rock
  • Released: 6/22/2018

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