REVIEW: The Damnwells – ‘The Damnwells’


Artist: The Damnwells
Title: The Damnwells
Label: Independent
Genre: Indie Rock

While often quite permeable, our musical palates allow for very little flexibility in terms of what we feel comfortable listening to. Certain people feel for hard-hitting lyrical attributes, some look to instrumentation for inspiration, and others run to records blindly and wait until something feels right. Listening to The Damnwells’ fifth studio album (and their first effort with the band’s original lineup since 2006) is a combination of all three mentioned above.

Comparing this self-titled effort to their older records would not do either justice. The Damnwells is a masterful combination of good taste and experience that only comes with time — something the band was fortunate enough to possess. “Money And Shiny Things” sets listeners up for the overall heavy lyrical content masked by lighthearted rhythms and melodies. We see this throughout the record and it becomes a theme of sorts. Unless you don’t do a little digging, you would think the band was from anywhere but the city. “Kentexas,” a largely Tom Petty-esque jam, would also lead you to think so. The band actually hails from Brooklyn.

The charm and candor of “The Girl That’s Not In Love With You” hooks you right in. This is probably the most cheerful anyone will ever hear someone sing about unrequited love. Heartbreak dominates most of the record, but as I’ve mentioned above, they are cloaked by upbeat rhythms and catchy hooks. Unapologetically honest, “Lost” and “Wreck You” contain the right amount of edge and diversifies the collection. The latter ringing in with “I’m not the man you think I am. You best just say goodbye. I’m gonna wreck you.”

The second half of the record is where we get really familiar with the hurt, almost up to a point of numbness, stoicism, and even as far as comfort. Tracks like “Heavy Heart” and “This Ship Is Ours” continue to grow on you and pretty soon they become something you realize you identify with.

Temporarily absolving listeners of the heartache is “Kill Me,” a two-and-a-half-minute song about celebrities and bad reality shows. The comical depictions make for a good goofy in-between. “Too Old To Die Young” does the same as it is a more beach-on-a-summer-day track.

Although most of the record’s sonic elements made the underlying context a pleasant ride, one could not escape how it ends, Perhaps the most heartbreaking track of all is the closer, “None Of These Things.” This song encapsulates all the pain and remorse that seeped through almost every number, subtle or otherwise. Oddly enough, it’s probably the most beautiful one among the collection.

Unfavorable circumstances often bring about favorable outcomes in multiple forms. This is usually the case for art. The Damnwells is an honest and forthright account of a man’s good and bad days, and how the band is able to transform all these into meaningful pieces of music. It takes a lot of time and effort to account for everything successfully, but it was worth it.

SCORE: 8/10
Review written by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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