[14 April 2008]
Producer/rapper Domer is not your typical underground hip-hop artist. He’s not obsessed with late 1980s to early ‘90s rap, or trying to save the genre. He also doesn’t battle-rap his way through every song on Vaguest Vacation, his sophomore effort. If his songs are any indication, Domer is mostly interested in making music fun again. And he does that without sacrificing substance for style.
Vaguest Vacation is an eccentric journey that blends genres ranging from hip-hop to disco to indie-pop and nearly everything in between. Unlike many experimental albums, however, Domer’s music never becomes overly pretentious. Instead, you simply get the impression he had a hell of a time making this record. His electronic beats will have you nodding your head in no time, and don’t be surprised if you get the urge to dance. For comparison’s sake, many of the 13 tracks sound heavily influenced by Danger Mouse’s Gnarls Barkley production.
“Mellow Me” is like Gnarls on speed, as redundant as that might seem. Domer’s rapping is at its best here. He hits the mic with a needed ferocity without losing the sincerity in his gruff voice. And matching the vocals is his fittingly laidback production. Also treading that ground, but with a faster tempo, is “The Way I See It”. Trippy and poppy, the track sounds like a b-side to last year’s Monster Maker by C-Ray Walz and Sharkey.
Just as is impressive is the lyrically self-explanatory lead single “You’re on to Me”. This catchy track features Panda Bear-esque, ambient vocals that float behind Domer’s rough growl. More than just a fine example of his soul-baring delivery, the song is also a strong representation of his production skills. His ability to create a layered, but not excessive, song like “You’re on to Me” shows Domer’s promise behind the boards.
Other noteworthy tracks include “Family”, the essential working-man song to which all nine-to-fivers can relate, and “Secret”, which is simplistic, quirky, and, most importantly, memorable. Domer isn’t just here to have fun, though. On “Midbreath”, which is as likable as it is erratic, he drunkenly grumbles his way through what becomes the perfect break-up anthem. Songs like these are what makes Domer both versatile and relatable.
Vaguest Vacation isn’t without its flaws, though. Some of the tracks are just too positive, and as a result sound stale. While upbeat songs are normally a welcome change of pace, they can also walk the fine line of being corny. Unfortunately for Domer, he goes over that line while dreaming of going back to school and camp on “Old Fashion”. The problem with many reminiscing tracks like this is that the lyrics are often cliché. “Wake Me Up” falls into the same trap of sounding too familiar, but it’s saved by its uplifting chorus.
Domer’s 40-minute romp through heartbreak, the daily grind, and numerous other topics ultimately works because you feel like you know him by the album’s end. Actually, you feel like you are him. And it’s that amiable quality that makes Vaguest Vacation so much damn fun to listen to.