Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – The Speed Of Things

[rating=6.00]

dalespeedThe problem with The Speed of Things is not so much in how it sounds. For all intents and purposes, it is the sort of album that fans of electro pop and ‘80s-era pop should have no trouble enjoying. There are definitely moments where you can dance to some of the songs and enjoy the explosion of synthesizers and beat machine sounds that fill the album’s various spaces. But you cannot help but feel that the album gets bogged down in its efforts to zero in on this sound so much that it forgets to do much in the way of creative songwriting because a lot of the record ends up sounding too similar to be memorable.

From the dreamy ‘80s-era pop rock of the opening track “Beautiful Dream”—which features lyrics like “It was a beautiful dream, it lasted all of the evening”—to the mid-tempo number “Knock Louder”—which features lines like “I will never share my world with anyone but you”—the band seems hell-bent on creating a mood that is decidedly emotional to the point of being overwhelming. Maudlin acoustic dance pop numbers like “Don’t Tell Me Now” don’t do much to change this picture, either.

On the bright side, however, what this largely static collection of songs does do is make you take notice of a couple of the album’s highlights. Anyone who has heard the band’s Patterns EP, which released earlier this year, will know how awesome the seriously danceable synth pop of “If You Didn’t See Me (The You Weren’t on the Dance Floor)”) is, and it feels like a breath of fresh air on this record. Similarly, “I Can’t Help It” is a nice change of pace with its echoing noises and vocals, the subtle build-up into a hand clap and tambourine-led beat and lyrics like  “I’m distracted by the little things that fall apart and need attention every day.” It’s a shame that more tracks like these do not appear on the record.

As sophomore albums go, The Speed of Things certainly could have been worse. As a follow-up to their fantastic 2011 debut, It’s a Corporate World, this album is something of a sophomore slump, but there are hints that this band isn’t going to fall apart and disappear forever after this release. It’s not a bad record on the whole, just a little too limited and too content to not spread its creative wings very far.

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