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Dispatch – Dispatch EP

on May 26, 2011, 8:00am

Dispatch is nothing if not a mélange of sounds, colors, styles. Their albums are an equally diverse collection of compositions, but there hasn’t been any new material in over 10 years. That changed recently with the release of the six-track Dispatch EP and promises of a summer tour to follow. The result is a mixture of the fun and the political, the meandering and the driving, folk and funk—in other words, traditional Dispatch.

The album kicks off with the driving guitar intro of “Melon Bend”, which quickly melts into their traditional snare-heavy percussion and some jammier interludes. This is summer festival music in a can. Next up is the reggae-flavored and slightly menacing “Con Man” in the grand tradition of “Passerby”. Third track “Valentine” is a highlight here. The lyrics on this folksy track sound a bit like Dylan, and the guitar is light and whimsical. This is one that will kill live.

“Beto” picks things back up tempo-wise, although this is the easiest track to ignore. It’s fine but not terribly interesting. But “Broken American” kicks in with playful banjo over political lyrics and a soul-rending melodic fall on the chorus. “They said they wouldn’t send us far/yeah that most of us could stay/But we speak in broken American/and we got the news today,” intone the vocals rather ominously. The play of lyrics and melody on this one place the song in the company of “The General” and “Elias” in terms of beautiful songs that also really mean something.

Evasively (and rather ironically), closing track “Turn This Ship Around” slips back into end-of-concert grand-jam style, but we’ve heard the heart of this album already, and there’s no going back. If this is an accurate sampling of their summer plans (or maybe even a full-length?), then Dispatch fans have a lot to look forward to.