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Dent May – Do Things

on June 19, 2012, 7:57am

While Dent May used to be all about a ukulele, he’s since become the least likely new-disco crooner this side of Dan Bejar. On Do Things, May embraces the sound of summers past full-bore, decking everything out in swanky bass, electronic drums, and shimmery synths, laying down easy-going harmonies and sugary hooks. It would seem, though, that even May isn’t clear how we’ve gotten to this point; on the chorus to standout track “Fun”, he dips between Stephin Merritt bass and lithe falsetto, crooning that he “don’t know what’s in store for me/ but I think it’s going to be fun.”

Whether it’s the Beach Boys-inflected “Tell Her” or the funked-up Grizzly Bear on opener “Rent Money”, May’s rich croon is letting loose youthful lines about how things will be great as long as we’re young and in love. In the former, the chorus insists that you “say what you feel/ when she holds you through the night,” and the latter focuses on the ability of individuality to supersede reality (“I don’t wanna be just another guy/ working for that rent money”).

As a whole, the album treads the fine line of genre fetishism and reinvention. On the one hand, the slinky, swaying rhythms of “Don’t Wait Too Long” are gleefully punctuated by a distorted guitar solo, while the title track sounds like a lost Beach Boys slow-dance, chugging bass and shiny synths losing any shot at attention under the gorgeous harmonies. But the too-cute-for-its-own-good “Wedding Day” tosses handfuls of adorable one after the other, looking around for a best friend (rather than mere attraction, an endearing detail that runs throughout the album).

That heavy-handedness is something that weighs the album down after repeat listens. The thunderstorm samples that open the title track and the chirping birds that end it are too obvious for the track’s brief flash of darkness. Whether it’s hand-claps, breathy backing coos, or lines like “You and me is never gonna end/ because you’re my best friend, honey” (on the ultra-cheesy “Best Friend”), May dives right into the deep end. While that effort is variously successful, you’ve got to at least give him credit for enthusiasm.

Essential Tracks: “Fun” and “Don’t Wait Too Long”

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