All of it was good but none of it was very original as an alt rock emo release. It did, however, attract the attention of Hopeless Records. They were signed before the original members graduated high school and the EP was rereleased as If You Could Only Keep Me Alive, an album I mostly shrugged off.
Then something happened over the last five years as the band began to tour, cut new albums, record acoustic covers, and build their confidence. Emo and pop punk really aren't such good descriptions anymore. Most of their earliest influences seem left behind. And these four longtime friends have settled into maturity while producing their most compelling album to date.
War Paint progresses The Dangerous Summer into rock.
Part of the change can be attributed to being exposed to more music, helping push the band in a new creative direction. It's almost as if they discovered post rock for the first time. And all four of them have come along way from being four kids no one really had faith in (and had read Hemingway, but never The Dangerous Summer).
The album opens with the title track War Paint, a song about settling down after pushing everyone away to prove you can make it. It's this kind of genuine reflection that gives the music a hook to hang itself on. And it probably strikes a little bit at the truth, reflecting back on the days in a New York City bar basement and an audience of five.
War Paint isn't the only song that delivers some earnest rock. Work In Progress is about trust and strain placed on relationships. Siren is about loss, recognizing how we might take someone for granted until they're gone. And Parachute too, in its own way, carries forward the underlying focus on the moment after you break something.
Those are among the best tracks on the album, but then there are the two acoustic covers of Work In Progress and No One's Gonna Need You More that raise the bar, especially on how much bassist AJ Perdomo has progressed as a vocalist. It's especially amazing when you consider he took voice lessons as a senior in high school.
Along with Perdomo, all of them have come along way to find their sound. Cody Payne (guitar, backup vocals), Bryan Czap (guitar), and Tyler Minsberg (drums), who missed two months of touring but made it back for the album. Notably, the band delivers a full rock sound and stronger, smoother transitions.
War Paint Makes The Dangerous Summer More Fierce At 7.9 On The Liquid Hip Scale.
Longtime fans can expect to hear more from the lead guitar and a little complexity (but still fiery) drum arrangements. New listeners are going to find a band with tremendous potential and a whole lot of life left in them. Enough so, I plan to park my seat as close to the stage as possible the next time they play The Roxy.
War Paint by The Dangerous Summer is on iTunes, and Barnes & Noble has the vinyl LP. You can also find War Paint [+digital booklet] on Amazon. Don't be surprised if the album breaks into the top ten.