In 2013, Ellicott City, Marlyand’s The Dangerous Summer released their third LP, ‘Golden Record’, through Hopeless Records. The titular allusion to the Voyager Golden Records sparked the belief that this could be the last offering from a band rife with tension, a final impression for them to leave on the world around them. It seemed this would come to be true months later with vocalist AJ Perdomo releasing a statement of his parting from the group, citing a disconnect with bandmate Cody Payne. With Payne taking over the group’s social media accounts (and allegedly band funds), it was clear that the still-young ensemble would never be able to function with his involvement. In February 2017, Payne was sentenced to a year in prison after being convicted of felony burglary. The otherwise morose situation served as a catalyst for the remaining members (Perdomo, guitarist Matt Kennedy and drummer Ben Cato) to reunite The Dangerous Summer, with Perdomo stating in a recent interview, “he no longer had control over us or access to things like the band’s social media.” Not long after, it was announced that their self-titled fourth LP would be released January 26, 2018.
It feels rather fitting that this effort comes bearing only the name of the group as it shows who this band can be without the weight of internal strife, serving as their true “golden record”. There’s a sonic sense of positivity that was seldom found on the last release and it goes way beyond band relations, it’s the sound of four years of maturation. It’s apparent from the opening track, ‘Color’, as Perdomo cuts through a hazy guitar track with his distinctly rough vocals to pronounce “There’s a hole somewhere where my old self lives/And it burns like fire so that I might live again.” In the background, Cato carries the rhythm with a bass-driven build before opening into a memorable hook guaranteed to move the room whether it be a small bar or packed arena.
‘This Is Life’ carries similar momentous bounce and lyrical content to the prefacing track, this time with an underlying melody reminiscent of their earlier work. Most aspects give the impression it could’ve been a b-side to ‘Reach for the Sun’, but the gang vocals overlaid in the outro add an element never before touched on by the group. It’s a rare instance where one song can sound familiar yet new and refreshing.
The Dangerous Summer has always carried a certain complexity usually discernible by the off-kilter drum patterns and introspective lyrical musings. ‘Ghosts’, arguably the standout track of the album, goes a different route to create a beautiful simplicity. Matt Kennedy’s poignant guitar riff is front and center as Perdomo reminisces on love and its effects, proclaiming “how I speak to God is how I speak to you.”
While maturation is a common factor throughout the album both in sound and in life, the accompanying positivity wanes at times to reveal emotional vulnerability. ‘Luna’ is lyrically nothing short of a love song, but the instrumentation makes for a melancholy juxtaposition, while ‘Wild Again’ comes from a longing place of loneliness. A reoccurring theme in Perdomo’s songwriting is continuance or starting anew and that’s never more clear than it is in ‘Valium’. It reads as a three minute plea for a second chance at love coming from a subject who turns towards substances to numb the pain of heartbreak.
‘When I Get Home’ will bring joy to any fellow Marylanders as it’s a classic hometown ode to show appreciation for their beginnings. Lyrically similar to previous works ‘Surfaced’ and ‘Catholic Girls’, it discusses the past in a nostalgic sense while staying upbeat and focusing on gratitude. The last track, ‘Infinite’, opens with nothing more than vocals and a dreamy guitar before growing into a fiery anthem that yearns for unbridled happiness, the feeling we all seem to chase.
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It’s a fitting end to the album, a joyful excursion that looks to capture the full spectrum of what it feels like to be alive. AJ Perdomo and crew didn’t start from scratch or drastically change sound, they just added some new elements while retaining what they’ve so perfectly honed in on over the past decade. The lyrical content is as raw and emotive as ever while each instrumental track feed off one another with ease, creating an album sure to leave long-time listeners and new fans alike both very happy. It seems Perdomo did get his new beginning after all.
‘The Dangerous Summer’ is now out via Hopeless Records. The albums track listing is…
- This Is Life
- Wild Again
- When I Get Home
- Live Forever