The world has become a scarier place since Dizzy Bats’ last release. Their latest EP, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, was written during the 2016 US presidential election and reflects this new, frightening situation. Known for authentic late ‘90s-style pop-punk, the Dizzy Bats now have bigger guitar riffs and sadder trumpets to bring the newfound anxiety to audible life. While the three songs sounds dark and mature on first listen, the darkness and maturity is fairly shallow: the idea is there, but the execution isn’t.
The first two songs are a very slight departure from their past releases. “I’m Listening” has the instrumentals of ‘90s Weezer, complete with big guitar riffs, but still has those nasally pop-punk vocals. “Scared” is close to their pop-punk past but gets some big, metal-ish guitars toward the end. It’s like a Green Day song with a Tenacious D instrumental break added in. The title track is a big departure from the other two-thirds of the EP. It’s slower, has vocal harmonies, and has that sad trumpet mentioned earlier. The trumpet works when it picks up the melody on the instrumental break, but when it first comes in, it throws you for a loop. It’s kind of like Taps (for the end of Girl Guide camps and military funerals,) right smack in the middle of the song.
The lyrics are a lot more anxiety-ridden than the past releases. Instead of covering the usual relationship problems, “I’m Listening” is about worrying about a woman’s mental illness… but from the perspective of a worried, omnipotent loved one. It’s a weird mix of perspectives, where lead singer Connor Frost knows the woman’s inner thoughts, and then it seems like Frost is speaking to a support group about wanting to help her (referring to her in the third person.) Then maybe he’s praying or talking to himself when he sings “don’t let her die,” but then he’s singing directly to her about attempting to bring her back to life and wanting her to say she’s fine. The overall idea of trying to help a loved one is there, but after multiple listens and careful scrutiny, I’m still not sure to whom these lyrics are directed or if there are multiple characters involved. “Scared” is just full of anxiety without getting to anything too specific. “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” gets personal, with Frost reminiscing about insensitive questions about his parentage (he is bi-racial and doesn’t resemble his father.) There’s a feeling of abandonment – whether it is from people pushing you away or from no longer belonging in your old home.
Dizzy Bats are maturing in this scary world, but there’s still growing left to do. That, or it’s time to go back to the fun, goofy pop-punk as a distraction from all of the anxiety.