Tuesday, November 3, 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: I Don't Know How But They Found Me - Razzmatazz

Coming from two opposite ends of the music spectrum, the pairing of Dallon Weekes and Ryan Seaman musically shouldn't make sense. Weekes formerly played bass for Brendon Urie's declining pop-rock project Panic! at the Disco, while Seaman holds the title for the longest-tenured drummer in the post-hardcore outfit, Falling in Reverse. Together, the two make I Don't Know How But They Found Me, and make new wave music? See why I said this shouldn't make sense. The band first came together in 2018 with the release of their 1981 EP. A collection of 6 songs that showed a lot of promise in Dallon's songwriting and the music the band was going to make in the future. There are songs like Choke that start with this super grimey bass and creepy vocal samples that give way to a huge chorus, to Bleed Magic which wouldn't sound too out of place on a Portugal, The Man album, to Do It All The Time with this sick synth-bass line and a lot of 80s pop energy. So with Dallon promising an album on Twitter ever since that EP, it's safe to say that there's quite a bit of expectation for this, but the band put all of my doubts to rest with the lead single Leave Me Alone. It's super funky, almost sounds like a dance song at times. I absolutely love the hook on this song with Dallon singing, "Now I want you to leave me alone / They say the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don't." It's a really strong first song. The second single was the title track which closes the album. It's a truly grand song with this driving piano beat and these huge choir backed choruses, there's also a really really cool sax solo that closes the song out. And while the band did release two more singles in the lead up to the album I decided to wait until the album released to hear them and I think that paid off. 

Weekes (left) and Seamen (right) in a promotional image for the album.

Weekes has really improved as a songwriter ever since his time with Panic! ended and the production on here is a lot grander and robust than their debut EP. A lot of these songs have solid 80s pop influence or a new wave vibe going on and it's fantastic. The energy remains high for most of the album with it only dropping down a few times throughout the albums 12 songs and 37 minutes of run time. The song MAD IQS almost kind of reminds me of the Cold War Kids song that ruled the radio last year, Complainer. Dallon's vocal performance sounds kind of similar and the song is structured in almost the same way but you won't notice it unless you're looking for it. I do still like it a lot though, I love the bits of fuzzy guitar and bass that pop up throughout the chorus. I also love the jazzy guitar chords in the chorus, they're a really nice touch. There's also that one line that gets stuck in my head, "come inside, twist the knife like it's something to do." Then there's the song Nobody Likes The Opening Band which has been around since the band's inception. It's a hilarious song about being the opening band which, if you are a musician, is bound to happen. Dallon sings about how this opening band "looks so tired, sounds uninspired," and that "chances are they won't go far, career is sure to end." However, the funniest line is right at the end where Dallon sings "Take pity on the opening bands / 'Cause no one came to see them, except their mom and dad."

The song New Invention sounds almost like a cross between Royal Blood and Simulation Theory era Muse, which I know sounds weird on paper but it works out super well. I like the delayed synths in the intro and the chorus on this song is incredible. It's so grand in presentations and it's catchy to sing along to as well. From The Gallows is the only song I would say is a miss. It's just so unfocused and disjointed that it's almost tough to listen to. Going from almost lounge music, to this super compressed hook, back to the lounge music with a spoken word from a text to speech bot? There's also a random trumpet solo for some reason. It's a mess on all fronts. Luckily things pick up almost immediately again with the song Clusterhug which I think might be the best song on this album. It almost sounds like what would happen if Brandon Flowers from The Killers and Win Butler from Arcade Fire wrote a song together. I absolutely adore the drums on this song because Seaman comes through with his best performance on the album. The drums are compressed very tastefully and they sound amazing on this song. Dallon also really shines on this song with a solid performance, a whole lot of passion in his voice. This song is honestly just beautiful and I'm happy it finally got released in it's full glory since it's apparently been kicking around since Panic! At The Disco's Too Weird, Too Rare era. 

The song Sugar Pills has this absolutely monstrous bass line paired with these quirky synths in the background. Dallon's falsetto on the pre-chorus is honestly insane, I did not expect him to pull that off. Kiss Goodnight might be one of the sweetest sounding songs on the album. There's these really sick programmed drums underneath some cool synth bass. The choruses are this really sweet blend of guitar and more programmed drums. The lyrics on the song are super sweet with Dallon singing about how much he loves this love interest of his. Singing about how he'll stop anything he's doing to answer her calls, or how she can invite him to sleep on the floor and he'll be a gentleman about, and even saying in the last chorus that he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life without her kiss goodnight. It's a really really sweet song. Lights Go Down has this cool disco type beat going on with synth swells pairing well with these twinkly piano notes. These a really cool sax solo about halfway through it that I didn't expect to hear anymore of on this album but hey, I'm not complaining. 

The album bows out on a softer note. Need You Here is a piano driven song with these weird vocal harmonies throughout it that I don't love but don't hate. The chorus is once again very grand, distorted bass, louder piano, some cool synthesizer. But in my opinion, the only thing that makes this song stand out on this album is the fact that Dallon's daughter Amelie contributes her voice to the song. Door almost reminds me of Get Behind Me Satan era White Stripes for some reason, I can't really pin down why, just a vibe I get. It's a stripped back acoustic guitar and piano based song with Dallon singing his heart out before we get the closing title track, which does do a great job of wrapping things up and in the context of the album, I like this song even more than I originally did. 

All in all, I was very happy with this album. Dallon and Ryan really rose to the occasion and met all of the expectations I had set for this album. The production on here is really slick, Dallon's songwriting just keeps improving, and in my opinion, I think the duo is only going to go up from here. As long as they stay on this track, I don't see them ever dropping in quality. 

I would rate
by I Don't Know How But They Found Me


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