Release Date: Jun 12, 2012
Record label: Paw Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
From the first cybertronic snare hit, it’s clear that Do Things, Dent May’s newest release, is gonna be a full-fledged pop avalanche. Stunningly bright, impeccably trim and dance-y, the level of song craftsmanship here has garnered Beach Boys comparisons, but Ace of Base might be a more accurate touchstone, with a bit of Christopher Owens’ (Girls) deep, bummed-out vocal blur as well. Do Things features songs about the senseless financial runaround of daily responsibilities, heavy platonic relationships and an urgent encouragement to go out and grab the love of your dreams worthy of Sebastian the Crab’s “Kiss the Girl.
After the release of his charmingly tuneful, ukulele-ridden debut The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele in 2009, Dent May underwent a bit of a sea change. He began recording uke-free dance music under the name Dent Sweat, releasing a couple tracks to the Internet but not an album. When the time came to record the next Dent May record, he incorporated the synths, dancefloor-friendly beats, and uke-free approach of Dent Sweat into his sound, dropping them on top of gently strummed guitars and May's cutely yearning vocals.
Dent May has gone disco, and we should all be totally OK with that. He mostly abandons his trademark ukulele on his latest, Do Things, opting instead for some sequiny synth and hair gel. He still knows you can’t force a dance party, but this try definitely pushes it much harder than past efforts with his four-stringed friend. It’s very ‘70s soft rock, very glossy.
The self-proclaimed "softest boy in Mississippi" returns this summer with another full-length release—this time just under the schtick-free sobriquet of, simply, Dent May. There may be some sighs of relief over his abandoning the ukulele as featured instrument—in truth, it was never that irksome or cutesy, though his debut album did alternate, at times, unevenly between self-conscious witticisms and simple pop ballads. Thankfully, Do Things deigns any quirky crutches in the name of liberally exploiting his true superpower: solid, Beach Boys–style ’60s shimmer-pop, this time reimagined through thick synths, drum machines, and handclaps.
Believe it or not, there was a time when a screen-printed Fruit of the Loom t-shirt was all you could hope for from an artist's merchandise stall. Now we have Grimes' pussy rings, a Wavves' weed grinder, and a Dent May's SPF lip balm. Dent May's choice of totem feels particularly apt when listening to his latest record. If you're young and carefree then Do Things is the kind of record you want constantly at your side as a crowd-pleasing soundtrack to the summer.
DENT MAY plays Monday (July 16) at Parts & Labour. See listing. Rating: NNN As far as descriptive album titles go, Dent May's last, The Good Feeling Music of Dent May And His Magnificent Ukulele, pretty much says everything you need to know. For his follow-up, the Oxford, Mississippi, native drops his magnificent uke but doubles down on the good-feeling music.
Dent MayDo Things[Paw Tracks; 2012]By Andrew Halverson; June 20, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGDent May makes silly music and he's done a fair job keeping that up for his last few years of being prominent. It's the way he inflects his voice, the way his cutesy lyrics flow off his tongue, and the overall jauntiness that has made us understand exactly who he is, and though he takes a turn with Do Things, it's obviously a Dent May album thanks to all of the above. Unfortunately, some of the personality that stood out on The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magical Ukelele has become a tad robotic over time, especially with the new record's primarily electronic facet.
If you listen to enough music, you’ll realize that certain albums convey certain atmospheres and settings. For example, Agalloch’s The Mantle is the best auditory representation of winter I’ve ever heard. Dent May’s newest release, Do Things, is also a fine example of this. With its dream-pop foundation, warm harmonies, and feel good vibe, it’s a nice album to welcome in summer (albeit a bit early).
While Dent May used to be all about a ukulele, he’s since become the least likely new-disco crooner this side of Dan Bejar. On Do Things, May embraces the sound of summers past full-bore, decking everything out in swanky bass, electronic drums, and shimmery synths, laying down easy-going harmonies and sugary hooks. It would seem, though, that even May isn’t clear how we’ve gotten to this point; on the chorus to standout track “Fun”, he dips between Stephin Merritt bass and lithe falsetto, crooning that he “don’t know what’s in store for me/ but I think it’s going to be fun.
Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele crafted a pretty great summer soundtrack a few years back. While not everything worked, it was good enough to keep playing in the background during beach parties or long summer drives. There’s still the same breezy carefree summer sound at the core of Do Things, except this time it’s so abused and overdressed that it can be a genuinely difficult record to listen to.
Dent May’s main forte used to be playing the ukulele – he once released an entire album titled after the instrument’s magnificence. Psychedelic big-guns Animal Collective signed Dent May straight onto their record label Paw Tracks to release ‘The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele’ and whacked him on the stage at their band-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. Three years later though, Dent May appears to have had a change of heart, and has returned, largely sans magnificent ukulele, with ‘Do Things’, trading in his undersized guitar for disco aspirations.