Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Album Review: Dartagnan - Breadwinner

Album Rating: B+
Anticipation can make or break an album.  As a friend once told me, “The best albums are the ones that you are not expecting.”  This statement has held true in 2012, confirmed by the slew of disappointing releases from highly regarded artists.  The good news, however, is that there will always be bands like Dartagnan, sporadically putting out 10-minute long punk EPs that make life suck a little less.  Drawing influence from bands like Latterman and Iron Chic (“orgcore,” if you will), Breadwinner consists of six tracks of gruff, anthemic punk that have the ability to console and appease listeners when releases from the big guns fail to do so.

Though it may seem obvious, many pop punk bands fail to see the importance of well-constructed vocal melodies.  Luckily, Dartagnan is not one of them.  Every song on the album has something for your ears to latch onto, as Matt Sibol and Will Hartlove tell of past memories, sentimentally significant places, and their struggle to stay focused on the present.  Most tracks on the EP begin with brief guitar riffs then become hearty sing-alongs that don’t let up until their final seconds – a simple, yet effective formula. 

“Way She Goes Boys,” strays from the path a bit, beginning instead with a clean vocal approach and then continuing on to be the stand out of the album.  Lyrics from the track, such as, “Like the night you threw me to the dogs, I’ll find my own way home,” make it even more memorable.  If Dartagnan could flesh out every track to be as poised as this particular one then they would be a punk force to be reckoned with - but for now, what they are doing for the majority of Breadwinner is perfectly fine. 

“Uncle Dick vs. Gucci Mane,” (burr!) is another highlight of the EP that screams “basement sing-along.”  After all, the EP would not be complete without a punx-life anthem that shouts: “Here’s to the cold nights and getting high, and the long way back/Let’s watch the sunset on the tracks one more time, one more time/Give me luck, a couch to lay by, and a spot to park the van/Give me real reasons to fucking slow down time.”  Sure, maybe all of this seems familiar, but Dartagnan’s execution is simply so loveable and authentic that Breadwinner gets a “Get Out of Jail Free” card this time around.   While there is no doubt that a continuation of the band’s current sound would make for another solid record, the real question is whether or not Dartagnan will strive to do just a bit more, and release a pop punk classic in the future.  

1. Go To Bed Miss Murphy
2. My Friend Steve
3. Get The Fuck Out Of Dodge
4. Way She Goes, Boys
5. Uncle Dick Vs. Gucci Mane
6. Camden

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