Dom’s first single “Living in America” grew on me – even as lead vocalist Dom (no last name, Madonna-style) declared that living in America is “sexy.” And sure enough, I feel the same way about the band getting “gnarl-ay” on “Happy Birthday Party” off of their new EP, Family of Love. From un-sexy Worcester, Massachusetts, Dom’s latest 15-minute album doesn’t sonically evolve from the reverberating delay and swirling 80’s synths that defined their debut, Sun Bronzed Greek Gods. Even though they incorporate guest vocalist Emma to switch things up on “Some Boys”, Dom still sounds like Wild Nothing on the morose, echoing “Family of Love” and like The Drums on the shoegaze-y “Damn”. Influence-dropping aside, Dom excels at their particular brand of synthetically nostalgic, lyrically self-aware ear candy, even if they’re not covering new ground.
“Damn” unfolds layers of guitar behind longing lyrics, appealing to listeners’ emotions as well as their aural aesthetics. Reverberating with dreamy synths and distant echoes, follower “Family of Love” alludes to Dom’s purported past of foster homes and selling drugs when he sings, “Whatever happened then/don’t matter now.” This subtle pathos dissipates on the catchy “Happy Birthday Party”, which sounds like early 00’s Bon Jovi, with its low, grungy synths and intermittent shredding.
The tone changes again on “Some Boys”, which relies on a simple piano chord progression and Emma’s deadpan vocals. The list of boys achieves a painfully honest tone that would have been dismissed as ironic had Dom, despite his long hair and high register, been singing. “Telephone”, on the other hand, comes off as more tongue-in-cheek. With synthetic beeps like a telephone dialing, as well as pitching and dipping “woo”s in the background, it sounds like Dom played the board game Girl Talk and then wrote a song about it, which, judging from Dom’s much-publicized eccentricities, wouldn’t surprise me.
Essential Tracks: “Happy Birthday Party”