A Spectacular Failure
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele crafted a pretty great summer soundtrack a few years back. While not everything worked, it was good enough to keep playing in the background during beach parties or long summer drives. There’s still the same breezy carefree summer sound at the core of Do Things, except this time it’s so abused and overdressed that it can be a genuinely difficult record to listen to. Where the first record showed some promise and revealed a tendency to buckle to trends, Do Things completely erases the former and completely succumbs to the latter to an overwhelmingly dismaying effect.
At first, it seems like it might work on “Rent Money”, which suggests May spent some quality time listening to Veckatimest between records. “Rent Money” on its own is actually a pretty great song and would make for a stellar single. It’s put together artfully, has a memorable melody and, more than any other song on Do Things, captures the mood of his best previous works. Unfortunately, it sets a high point that’s never close to being matched throughout the remaining nine tracks on Do Things, making each ensuing track more disappointing than the next.
For the majority of Do Things, May just sounds bored, which is a bad problem to have when you recorded everything. A lot of times certain aspects come off feeling forced or like May knew he was fulfilling some bizarre pre-requisite for a genre piece. There’s virtually no moments of true invention to be found anywhere on this record, which is disappointing considering they often cropped up on May’s debut. It’s as if he traded whatever authenticity he may have had for artifice. More disappointingly, there’s not really too many distinguishing marks to really separate these songs from each other. They all peddle the same psych-disco revival that Cherub nails perfectly to a much lesser effect.
Around the fourth track on Do Things is where the album starts to truly drag and it never rights itself, making it an absolute chore to get to the last track. Everything in the latter half of Do Things only exceeds the opening half in being bland. It also marks the point where the clichés just keep piling onto each other, from the horrendous synthesizer and slap bass in “Don’t Wait Too Long” to the keyboard drums in “Parents”. However, scattered at infuriatingly brief moments throughout these songs are good moments, like the chorus vocal melody to “Parents”. It makes for an endlessly frustrating listen to hear May sound energized one second while latching onto something unique and worthwhile before transforming back into a dead product of trend in a matter of mere seconds.
Do Things, unsurprisingly, ends on a run of unimaginative songs that make it increasingly difficult to want to keep listening to it. It’s an unfortunate album that will no doubt pander to a certain group of people but will likely leave everyone else cold. There’s nothing here apart from the lead-off track that’s worth a repeat listen. Dent May’s destroyed most of his promise with a single swift blow that sees him tirelessly combining the worst of music’s recent trends, from Bruce Hornsby synthesizers to unabashedly white funk. Quite easily one of the most cloying, soulless, and altogether unnecessary releases of the first half of 2012.
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// Notes from the Road
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