Review: Daddy Issues – ‘Deep Dream’

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Rock music that leans too heavily on grunge influences can come out sounding overplayed and frankly, tiring, but that’s not to say that rock is dead, or that grunge sounds can’t be utilized in an exciting way. There are plenty of groups finding innovative ways to incorporate elements of rock into new, interesting music. Nashville’s Daddy Issues is one of those. On their sophomore album Deep Dream, released on the exuberant alternative label Infinity Cat, Daddy Issues matures from their 2015 debut Can We Still Hang. They retain fun and snappy elements of their identity like the punk feminist rocker vibe and sugary sweet vocals, but take more care with lyrical content and production style. They touch on some pretty serious topics throughout the album but true to their roots, never take themselves overly seriously. Daddy Issues’ self-described blend of “witchy grunge and surf glam” gives power to listeners and makes Deep Dream a thoughtful, admirable modern rock record.

One of the ways Deep Dream achieves more than just the sum of its parts is the way it addresses art as a political/social statement. On a standout from the album, “Locked Out, it “turns out I’m a sucker / I’m just your type of girl.” The wistful, tongue-in-cheek delivery of this line is both self-aware and makes a self-deprecating statement into art. “Locked Out” fades satisfyingly into “I’m Not,” which explores the catharsis of music as a tool to address the long-lasting impacts of childhood sexual abuse for drummer Emily Maxwell. Self-disparaging like “you’re so great / and I’m not” entices listeners with a relatable dynamic. The speaker’s desire for sexual freedom and confidence contrasts thoughtfully with their unsureness  how that appears to the world, with lyrics like “It’s not my fault / I blame my sexuality / I feel promiscuous / but maybe I’m a prude.” The entire album, this song in particular, documents a journey to self-realization through various tools: aforementioned sexuality, bodily autonomy, anger, sadness, and others. Overall, it’s a remarkably effective device for reaching a unique kind of self-actualization in this contemporary era.

Daddy Issues plays a deep and thoughtful brand of feminist punk rock. On their cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” they turn an arguably self-obsessed classic into a hazy, slow-burning, wistful punk rock jam that’s impossible not to nod your head to. The cover also appeared on a Planned Parenthood benefit compilation, cementing their music as a political statement. It is simultaneously wistful and punky, and is creative in a way that many covers aren’t. It’s fuzziness and reverb matches that of the rest of the album, so while it is utterly different from both the original and their usual lyrical style, it fits perfectly into the album as a whole.

Self-reflectiveness is present on tracks like “High St” and “Lemon.” This lyrical content is commonly melded with powerful guitar parts, and is one of the things that makes this record more introspective than their previous. Throughout the songs, they sound continuously responsive to the world around them. On “Mosquito Bite,” the speaker grows to recognize their own and another person’s fault for a failed relationship. “In Your Head” grows angry at someone else for making up an unrealistic portrait of a breakup: “Oh yeah in your head / I can’t get over you.” Daddy Issues makes the mundane and frustrating parts of relationships cathartic and cleansing; it is refreshingly truthful.

Deep Dream holds true to its title. At points, it’s a hazy, dreamy reflection on personal autonomy, especially in relationships. But it’s also a more active catharsis from toxicity in those same relationships. It includes somber, reflective lyrics and punky, scream-like guitar parts like on “Dog Years,” and fuses cool, slow, alternative rock and self-aware political statements for a commandingly relevant articulation of the multitudes it contains. It includes the effective elements of their previous record Can We Still Hang, but develops to a more sophisticated expression of punk power. It ranges from soft, serious ballads to angry, reverb-filled rocking tracks – and is overall a dynamic, substantive, captivating, and well-done sophomore LP.



You can buy the album now on Daddy Issues’ Bandcamp or on the Infinity Cat website.

FFO: Paws, Bully, Dilly Dally, PUP

– Lucy Danger