Dormlife - Mustard Is The New Ketchup | ThePunkSite.com
Mustard Is The New Ketchup
|| Reviewer: Cole Faulkner
Looking back, I can’t believe that I once went through a Head Automatica phase… I criminally over-listened to Propaganda, misguidedly thinking it was some slick stuff. Needless to say, I can’t stand the album now, and when I try to dig it up, Daryl Palumbo’s circus-like vocal pitch is a sure-fire precursor to a headache. So when Head Automatica the first band that came to mind after throwing on Dormlife’s cleverly titled full length, Mustard Is The New Ketchup, prospects looked pretty bleak. But while the vocal performance never truly picked up, the accompanying musical score featured plenty of noteworthy draws.
Channeling a curious array of jazzy keys and soulful tempos, there’s an almost Richard Cheese quality to the whole affair. Rooted in a hip shaking acoustic beat, songs like “Scentse” already go down easy before you consider the ambitious percussion work. Life simply feels a whole lot better when drummer Michael pounds his pedals one moment, and feathers his set a mere moment later. In this regard, the accompanying time signatures come filled with a stop-n-go cadence rooted in dimly lit speak-easies and a sound firmly inspired from decades past. “Venom” and “Premises and Promises” spotlight’s the album’s musical variability with the inclusion of a horn section, while those like “Addison” take full advantage of the piano.
It’s sad then that the wild inflections of Samuel seem to put a damper on these promising scenarios. For instance, “I Want To Believe” includes a host of vocal slides that overshadow the aforementioned backdrop. The flaw comes in the delivery’s unmarked vocal clarity. It’s as sparkling clean as a meticulously shone crystal vase with zero imperfections. Not to take away from his talents, but Sam could use a little fraying around the edges.
With so much apparent talent, I feel as though I’m cheating Dormlife of their achievement. But as long as Sam’s high-flying whine continues to steal the show, I just can’t overlook the gapping flaws. Those that can appreciate Sam’s style will likely get some mileage out of Mustard Is The New Ketchup, but those like me will want to look elsewhere.