by Alex Monzel
Meet Dad Jokes: the band whose song titles will either leave you groaning or… nope, that’s pretty much the only option. The prog rock outfit from Oakland, California invite you to enter the “Punderdome” and experience their sophomore release entitled Dad Max.
Dad Max opens with a carefully crafted instrumental intro that slowly unravels until the last notes of “I Will Turn This Car Around” fade from your speakers. The tracks have this seamless flow between them that shapes the four track release into what could be easily confused with a sixteen and a half minute jam session.
There were plenty of variations throughout the course of the album besides the subtle track changes which provided it with much needed contrast, such as a few vocal bits strewn about, rhythmic parallel sections and style misdirection. Yet, each track remains true to the core theme of the album.
This balance is one of the most important factors in crafting a great record. By all appearances, Dad Max has achieved this balance, but I would not consider it to be a great record.
Alright, I’m going to reveal a secret here. I’ve lived in fear for far too long, but I feel it’s past time that I came clean. I like puns. There, I said it! Which means that I was predisposed to liking this record. After listening to it, however, it managed to work its way back down to just an average (if not below average) album for me. I wanted to like it; I really did, but it just wasn’t enough. The whole album lacked focus. If you want to sing, then sing; don’t just throw some unintelligible vocals in whenever you feel like it. I also enjoyed the idea of the heavy metal rhythmic pairing of the guitars and drums without the typical over distortion, but there wasn’t enough time taken to craft what they thought the new sound of it should be.
Like a lot of great musicians, Dad Jokes appears to be influenced by many styles, genres, etc. What sets them apart from the aforementioned musicians is their inability to utilize the best parts of their predecessors to form their own unique sound. This is not cause to lose hope in Dad Jokes. Actually, it’s much the opposite.
I’ll just say this: you’re far too talented to just be aiming at five different dart boards, shotgun blasting at every whim and hoping you strike gold. It’s like the previous line. You may have a notion of what I’m trying to convey, but the message got so mucked up with my inability to commit to a single metaphor that it lost all its power.