Dumbed down: Garage pop band captures teenage attitude on self-titled album
4 out of 5 Decibels
Hipster college kids and indie music lovers alike are notorious for filling the underground music scene with extremely lackluster garage bands. However, everyone’s perfect freshman-year soundtrack and late-night cram mix is now coming from the New York-based band, Dumb Talk.
In its debut self-titled album, the band shows off its offbeat interpretation of pop music while offering plenty of tunes suited for a teenage wasteland.
The band formed in late 2011, with simple intentions of recording quality music in its basement. However, the group caught the eye of Miscreant Records Founder Jeanette Wall, a senior in the Bandier Program for Music and the Entertainment Industries. Months later, the band’s once-failed EP turned into a record deal and full-length vinyl album. Now, with Will Smith and Liam Walsh on guitar, Harry Manning on bass and Ian Dwy on drums, the group is producing what is commonly called “dreamy garage pop”: a distinct genre that the band believes is the only way to describe its sound.
“It basically means [crappy] pop music,” Smith said. “We’re not punk enough to say we’re a punk band, and we’re not cool enough to say we’re a pop band. Garage pop is a pretty broad definition, so I think that’s why [we] like and use it.”
This sound gets properly introduced through many of the band’s compositions. On “Princess,” the track begins with an upbeat riff, soon followed by gritty vocals. The result is fun, courtesy of its catchy beat and signature pop trademark of getting listeners to bob their heads, while still mixing in the reckless attitude of punk.
The song talks about young love, and its pop factor is heightened by plenty of background “oohs” with an effect on the vocals that makes them sound like they’re coming from a bullhorn. Lyrics claiming that the group doesn’t care about the flower that the song’s girl wears on her head give off “Bad to the Bone” vibes.
Casual lyrics about flowers aren’t the only trick Dumb Talk has up its sleeve. Many of the band’s lyrics are a picturesque approach to describing the thoughts of an aimless teen. The group’s youth appeal is no surprise, considering the fact that its lyrics were based on true events.
“Everyday things that inspired the lyrics: being a teenager, not having a good time at college, being lazy, having crushes on girls, and [stuff] like that,” Smith said. “We all go to the same school and lead pretty boring lives. Making music and playing shows on the weekend is like, the highlight of my week. It’s a cool thing to get you through the week.”
Nothing’s better to get listeners through the week than relatable songs about people’s humdrum lives. In “Nineteen,” Dumb Talk paints listeners a picture of days when teens have nothing better to do than waste time. The lazily delivered lyrics, “too lazy to just stay home,” will undoubtedly get stuck in fans’ heads. It’s a beachy, up-tempo track with a summertime vibe.
With Dumb Talk’s fresh sound and youth appeal, the band may just have a college anthem in its future. And possibly in anticipation, the band plans to tour plenty of colleges this fall and throughout the winter promoting “Dumb Talk,” as well as putting out a cassette version of its first EP.
Despite its growing popularity, the band is still giddy when it gains new fans. The group just hopes to make good music, just as it once did in a cramped basement.
Said Smith: “[We] get so excited when someone likes the music we make. [We] still think that’s such a big deal. If people like it, and want to come to shows, that will inspire us to make more music and do better.”
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