In a bleak time when there’s a catastrophe seemingly looming around every corner, the buoyant melodies of a band like Dude York are a refreshing diversion. The fourth release by the Seattle-based trio is a carefree ode to romance, aptly titled Falling.
Falling is the band’s second album released under the Hardly Art label. It’s also the first that includes the vocals of Claire England (bass) as equally as those of her bandmate, Peter Richards (guitar) with England singing seven of the 13 songs. In a recent press release, England stated, “I grew up listening to all this pop-punk and alt-rock that was mostly male-fronted, but I want to fill that hole I saw by recreating it now for myself.”
While Dude York doesn’t bear the heavy sound of their Seattle-based grunge predecessors, they evoke 1990s guitar-driven indie bands like Superchunk and more recently, Metric and the Killers. Their guitar-dense melodies are welcome in a time when pop music is often laminated with dance beats and vocoders.
The album was recorded in ten days, but the resulting 13 songs are polished, not processed. England’s voice conjures the earnestness of Liz Phair’s vocals and occasionally the pluck of Donita Sparks’. Peter Richards adds to the mix with ardent choruses and sporadic shrieking guitar solos. Together, England and Richards are a vibrant duo that compliments each other, both vocally and lyrically. It should be emphasized, however, that Dude York is a trio. Drummer, Andrew Hall regulates the heartbeat of the band and keeps things tight.
You won’t pretentiousness or opacity on Falling. The members aren’t afraid to musically wear their hearts on their sleeves. The tracks divulge teenage angst without apology. “I feel like a lot of the songs that were reference points consciously or unconsciously for this record dealt with everything very much in black and white, and that really resonates with you when you’re 14,15,16, 17…” Andrew Hall said recently in an interview with stereoboard.com.
The lyrics are straightforward and conversational, focusing on the various stages of falling in love. The lyrics sound like a dialogue you might have with a friend on the phone about a budding relationship. On “Unexpected”, England sings: “If I meet someone who seems worth saving me, we’ll slow it down. We’ll call it dating, but I’m not gonna settle ’til I’m sure.” On the title track, England sings about the giddy first stages of romance that include “smiling like an idiot all day” and liking “all the same shit”.
However, like the broken cake on the cover of the album suggests, what goes up must eventually come down. The album not only explores the joys of falling love but also examines the foibles and letdowns. On “Making Sense”, England sings: “Don’t fall fast. Don’t fall hard. Don’t fall at all.” And on “Box”, Richard sings: “So you’re alone, and it hurts like a broken bone. Now on your own, there’s no one left to hide from behind your phone.” However, even when the songs are about heartbreak, there’s still something bright in the music.
Despite being compared to bands from the ’90s, Dude York reflects the current times with references to things like dating in the age of texting and watching The Bachelorette. They are a band of Millennials who prove they can carry the indie torch of Generation X, but with their own unique and updated sound.
Falling is an effervescent record that may feel nostalgic to some and in-the-moment for others. Either way, the album jumps out of the speakers, exuding youth and an upbeat spirit—something needed in the world right now.