Some things are inarguable: the earth is round, the atomic weight of Oxygen is 15.9994, the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. Try arguing these details and you will end up with an egg on your face.
Other things not so much. It is our inalienable right as Americans to have opinions: lots of opinions, lots and lots of opinions.
Well. Let’s just say that it’s fair to say that Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and it’s latest release, It’s Corporate World finds its way into both arenas.
The inarguable: the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr is the best band name to come around in a long time. Funny, smart, allowing for multiple interpretations but not defining the band or even you giving a clue as to what the band sounds like.
The arguable: the record.
So let’s argue.
I’d call It’s a Corporate World bouncy, articulate synth pop — heavy on the bounce, heavy on the pop. The sound is fun and imaginative. You can tell a lot of work went into the instrumentation and production. In particular, the vocal harmonies are stacked with creativity and precision, notably in the opener “Morning Thought” and loopy “Skeletons.” But there are interesting synth sounds, cool crackly beats and off-kilter, wacky lyrics. I’d even go as far to says that DEJJ’s Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott are highly gifted arrangers. If excellent presentation is what you are looking for, It’s a Corporate World is for you. There are those, however, who need a bit more than presentation and here is where It’s a Corporate World is lacking. Pop should stick to your ribs. It should stalk you and haunt you in your dreams. How many times have you cursed Lady Gaga for planting a melody so deep in your head you can’t get it out no matter what you do? Hey, cut her slack – that’s her job. And she’s great at her job. And if DEJJ was wise, they might want to intern for her for the summer because they could use a little of what she’s got.
The hooks take a back seat to the production at every turn. Like any responsible reviewer I’ve listened to It’s a Corporate World three or four times over the last two weeks and each time I could barely remember how it went as soon as I stopped listening. There are really good ideas in here just not super memorable ones and unfortunately, that’s an indelible mark of good pop music. That’s not to say that DEJJ won’t turn into a great, great band. Just not now. And I won’t argue about that.
Words by Stephe Sykes