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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Alternative Music: New Music Friday Roundup

On Friday, Feb. 9, New Music Friday blessed alternative listeners with plenty of exciting album releases.
The Wombats released their fourth studio album “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” on Friday. They easily welcome listeners back into the unique Wombats surrealist universe, as most of their albums do. “BPWRYL” is a world where people have cheetah tongues and jellyfish-shaking hands. Black flamingos roam free and dancing is the perfect activity performed inside of a coma. The Wombats are more than a band, they’re world builders. At times they’re groovy and during others they’re psychedelic, but it’s always indie pop at its best.
Admittedly, there isn’t much on this latest release that can’t be found on previous releases. It’s cool and suave, and songs like “Turn” should be on every future summer playlist with lyrics like “you could give an aspirin the headache of its life.” It has an ominous and ragingly fun sound. Songs like “Cheetah Tongue” and “Lemon to a Knife Fight” are the album’s first and strongest tracks, where the Wombat’s surrealism meets absurdism. To see The Wombats’ at their most quirky, “Lethal Combination” was pleasantly placed in the middle of the album to break up the songs that were beginning to blend together. This is a more relaxed, alcohol-fueled love song, with verses perfect for clapping and tambourines. Fans of The Wombats and those looking to get into this band are sure to enjoy this solid release. However, for listeners looking for this band’s sound to evolve, they clearly aren’t going to reinvent the wheel just yet. But if it works, why change it?
Dashboard Confessional returned to release their first album in nine years. Deep breaths, you read that right. Dashboard Confessional is back. After *nine* years. Going into “Crooked Shadows,” I was scared. I didn’t know what Dashboard Confessional was going to have in store for me. Was there any way that Chris Carrabba could howl about teen angst the way he used to at 42 years old? It didn’t help that I saw a few disappointed reviews before listening. The original emos don’t seem too thrilled with this release.
To them, I say this: get over it! Dashboard Confessional has just released their most fun and accessible album of their career. Is it emo? No, probably not. But will you get yelled at by friends next time you try playing Dashboard Confessional on the aux cord? Not if you choose one of their more pop influenced tracks like “Catch You.” The band takes it a step even further with “Belong” by collaborating with the EDM group Cash Cash, and shockingly, it works—it *really* works. They’re undeniably catchy and fun, and it feels like a breath of fresh air for this band. I won’t argue that they have nearly as much swoon-worthy grandeur as past tracks like “Stolen” or rebellious and reckless summer night energy like “Hands Down,” but don’t worry. Hearing Carrabba yell “yeah, I belong with you” is still magical.
Surprisingly, when Dashboard Confessional gets their most “emo” on “Crooked Shadows,” it falls flat. Luckily, it seems like Carrabba and the band knew what their strengths were at this point in their career. Their pop-influenced tracks shine brightest. That isn’t to say there aren’t any rock-influenced anthems that won’t be played at Dashboard shows for years to come. “We Fight” definitely gets the blood pumping with sounds reminiscent of previous Dashboard Confessional anthems. Carrabba sings for all the kids who still need to hear lyrics from this band that will help them feel less alone in life.  
Carrabba croons on “Heart Beat Here”: “we found our way past our youthful fears and found our way through the pain and tears.” Enjoy Dashboard Confessional at their happiest and lightest points in their career yet with “Crooked Shadows.” Teen angst can only last so long.
Perhaps the most surprising release on Feb. 9 was Brian Fallon’s second album, “Sleepwalkers.” The Gaslight Anthem’s frontman has thrown alternative listeners a curveball with this album. Fallon doesn’t shy away from his New Jersey rock roots while fully embracing his more vintage sound. “Sleepwalkers” is a treat that sounds like it was released in 1978, in the midst of Bruce Springsteen’s golden age and the release of “Grease.” The tracks remind us of the appeal of getting in a car and driving away from your problems, and the romance that comes from a soul-shaking love for someone who has the same ghosts as you.
Nothing will make you wish that your name was Stacy more than Fallon’s panicked and passionate “STACY!” at the beginning of the bumping party that is “Forget Me Not.” A more heart baring track comes in the form of “Her Majesty’s Service.” A song about two young people who are looking for “a heart that breaks the same as mine” is where Fallon shows how much tenderness and power he can intertwine in one vocal performance. “Sleepwalkers” is rocky, raw, and gives younger listeners something unique to nod their heads to while wondering what life was like decades ago. “Sleepwalkers” is an absolute can’t skip record.