The sixth album from Dawes is another welcome twist in their ever-evolving musical style. The angst and heavy nature of their previous output has been replaced with more mellow sound. The thoughtful songwriting and the vintage overtones remain, but something has fundamentally shifted in their music. Produced once again by Jonathan Wilson the album has the continuity of their earlier work, but there's a more mature leaning to Taylor Goldsmith's writing. Perhaps it's propelled by being in love, or maybe the youthful anger that drove their earlier work has become more philosophical. Either way, the honesty and accessibility of the writing will undoubtedly strike a chord with those thirtysomethings whose lives are running in parallel to the band.
Pianist/keyboard player Lee Pardini is the newest member of the band and with the amps turned down he gets a chance to show his skills as overall the album is more piano based and spacial than before. The guitar and bass driven opening track Living In The Future is the odd one out in terms of style, but not in content. Depression, conspiracy, anxiety, politics all feature – it's not the break-up songs that fans may be used to, although the latter half of the album, which is unashamedly romantically, is driven by Taylor's engagement. Crack The Case is in many ways a bridge between the past and the future of the band. With its Bruce Hornsby style piano and Pink Floyd's Division Bell style guitar arrangements, the song speaks about misrepresentation within the media before moving into a lengthy verse about a woman who has discovered her husband's infidelity and working towards forgiveness. It's a song about accepting what you've been through and how it has made who you are and moving forward from that point and not looking back and making your own choices in an increasingly divided world. It's a perfect example of where the band sit right now, what they are leaving behind stylistically and the sophistication of where they are moving to.
From the alt-folk feel of the previous track Feed The Fire slips into a welcome groove that has a strong, memorable chorus as its centrepiece. Telescope charts lasting effects of childhood trauma, slightly contradicting the positive message of a few songs earlier. Pardini's keys and Griffin Goldsmith's drum work are pivotal to this track, laying down a hypnotic pattern throughout the song that's layered with additional dynamics. The album itself is filled with unexpected musical touches, and the production allows each of the instruments enough space to tell their story alongside the lyrics; from the carefully placed strings to backing vocals and an evocative saxophone, they are all an aural treat that serves to paint a different and more experimental picture for the band. I Can't Love harks back to early days of break up songs and bold melancholic tracks by spinning us some ambiguous lines like 'I got a first glimpse of the person than you are...I can't love you anymore...' only to be offered a satisfyingly romantic 'than I do right now' later in the song. As the final songs of the album play out, it's clear that Taylor's fiance, Mandy Moore is his muse for many of these tracks and he's not ashamed to let this show through in his music. They are mellifluous and honest songs and even more welcome because there's no pretence. You never feel as if Taylor is forcing the language or the music to be commercial or hip. Time Flies Anyway draws all of the stands on the album together, the romance, the trepidation, the past, the future, the adolescence, the manhood. After a decade of playing with sounds, Dawes have finally embraced their future maturity, and it's shown through this album's glowing musical sophistication. Groupie Rating 4/5