Recommended Albums #22

Do Things

Dent May: Do Things (2012)

Dent May’s latest is a departure in style from 2009’s Good Feeling Music of Dent May, which was credited to “Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele”. First, the uke is gone. Do Things makes use of a wider variety of instrumentation to explore a broad range of pop textures. The resulting sound may not be to everyone’s taste, but is decidedly fresh.

More importantly, the songwriting has taken a step forward from May’s past releases. This album is a consistently pleasing listen almost from start to finish, although it may take you a few spins to warm up to it–one must get past the delivery and unconventional sound. After that, though, it’s pure Brian Wilson-informed pop bliss.

May inhabits an idyllic 50’s-60’s pop dream world of happy vibes and positive messages. The instrumentation of certain songs and high-pitched lead vocal may bring the Beach Boys to mind, but the beats are a mix of cheesy Casio keyboard and 70’s disco. In fact, you can match up the beats of certain tunes with the specific disco song they emulate. “Don’t Wait Too Long”, for example, contains the rhythmic skeleton of Chic’s “Good Times”, while “Parents” has the same beat as Shirley & Company’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” with a slower tempo. Maybe this is what the Beach Boys would have sounded like had they formed in 1977, at the height of disco, rather than the peak of a surfing craze.

Contemporary pop may have no single sound that will define it for kids of the future to some up neatly because it’s mostly made up of borrowed and recycled sounds of past eras. You could choose to see this as reason to criticize its lack of originality, but the originality comes in the synthesis of past styles. Let’s face it, almost everything’s been done at this point. What makes the best new pop so much fun is that someone like Dent May can take the innocence of the sixties, the disco beats of the seventies, the synths of the eighties, and mix in a little of that contemporary ironic/homage viewpoint to create a found art from the borrowed parts–a great summer record for 2012.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/02/23/songs-you-may-have-missed-20/

Listen to: “Best Friend”

Listen to: “Tell Her”

Listen to: “Parents”

“Best Friend” video clip:

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