EP Review: The Dangerous Summer – ‘All That Is Left of the Blue Sky’
Posted: by The Editor
It’s been pretty hectic for The Dangerous Summer. In 2018, we saw the release of their self-titled record, the band’s first output since their 2013 hiatus, then in 2019 came Mother Nature, the band’s fifth full-length. The band announced in 2020 that they’d be leaving longtime label Hopeless Records to release music under their own label, Molly Water Music. To cap off 2020, they dropped their EP All That Is Left of the Blue Sky.
A criticism the band has received over their fifteen-year tenure is that they’ve gotten a bit too comfortable in their sound; though the band’s certainly branched out on songs throughout their catalog, they found a space somewhere between pop-punk and alt rock to occupy. Mother Nature found the band pushing against that more than ever before, as the six-minute “Starting Over / Slow Down” dove into electronic rock, “It Is Real” was built around a glitchy drum machine, and “Better Light” drenched AJ Perdomo’s scratchy vocals in autotune over sparkling synths. Their Molly Water Music debut takes the band further down that road than ever before, stretching their sound in new directions and making the most of their new creative freedom.
The title of “Fuck Them All” feels sort of like a mission statement for the EP and Molly Water Music in general (“I understand now that this is my moment / yeah, nothing’s standing here in my way.”) It’s one of the more traditional Dangerous Summer songs; if it was placed between “No One’s Gonna Need You More” and “Good Things” on their album War Paint, no one would bat an eye. Immediately after, however, things take a hard left turn; “Come Down” is an out-and-out piano ballad. Perdomo makes use of his upper register more consistently than ever before, and strings fill it out to give it a swelling heft they’ve never attempted before. The bright acoustic “I’m Alive” rounds out the A-side of the EP. The Dangerous Summer has never shied away from their Third Eye Blind-indebted influence, but it comes across a little too strong on “I’m Alive,” which ends up sounding a bit like “Jumper”’s little brother. Still, Perdomo has a knack for melody, so while the song boasts some of his more simplistic lyrics (“I wanna go to the ocean / I wanna see where it ends”), it’s still an earworm.
Perhaps this is because the first three songs were released before the EP, but All That Is Left of the Blue Sky really picks up on the B-side. Like “Fuck Them All,” “LA in a Cop Car” kicks things off with a classic Dangerous Summer feel; Matt Kennedy gets to let loose in a way that recalls some of the more exciting guitar work on the band’s first two LPs, especially in the song’s bridge. Then, much like how the piano- and string-based “Come Down” followed “Fuck Them All,” the piano- and string-based “Lie to Me” followed “LA.” It’s somewhat unfortunate that the band’s first two piano ballads are featured on the same EP – particularly since “Lie to Me” outshines “Come Down,” which would be a highlight on another album. The song builds and builds with each verse, layering drums, strings, twinkling keys, and tremolo-picked guitars one after another until its climactic final chorus as Perdomo turns in one of his most impassioned vocal performances.
The band wraps things up with “Come Along.” The most driving song on the EP, it could’ve just as easily been included on Mother Nature. Studio drummer Aaron Gillespie provides vocals for the song’s bridge, which – while still in the Dangerous Summer’s stylistic wheelhouse – gives the song a unique feel in their discography. It’s a fitting conclusion to the EP, a song that’s recognizably the Dangerous Summer with a different spin. It’s a nice glimpse into what we can expect from the band in the future. All That Is Left of the Blue Sky is their first foray into independent music, and it’s reason enough to expect their next will be even more impressive.
Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great /Phenomenal
Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison
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