Dolfish: I’d Rather Disappear Than Stay The Same
One of my favorite things about being a music critic is the experience of something new. It doesn’t happen all the time, but I love being humbled by the music I must examine and write about, to be utterly surprised by its content. I had no idea what to expect from this new record from Dolfish, but what I found turned out to be one of the most complete and arresting albums I’ve heard in a while.
The man behind Dolfish, Max Sollisch, has a very distinct singing voice that reminds me of pre-Y’s Joanna Newsom mixed with Neil Young and Gordon Gano. While he’s certainly no crooner, the combination of his songwriting and the eccentric tenderness of his voice create an atmosphere that is uniquely his as an artist. Added into the mix are his laid back, yet incredibly skillful guitar parts that shift easily from quiet finger picking to vibrant, folk-rock strumming sections.
It’s the former of the two that kicks the record off on the incredibly potent “Grown Ups”. This is the longest track on the album, and a strange pick for an opener, but it certainly leaves an impression. “Grown Ups” is sung from the point of view of a young boy (perhaps Sollisch himself) and his Friday night experiences with his single parent over the years. Melancholy, nostalgia, and youthful apprehension pervade every line and culminate in the most beautiful track on the record.
The title song, resting in the number three spot, is the first of several more upbeat and folk-rocky tunes. “I’d Rather Disappear Than Stay The Same” gives Sollisch a chance to flex his voice over a full band sound. It’s a welcome change of pace on a rather spare record. Most of the songs stretch just beyond the two-minute mark, providing the listener with a constantly evolving listen.
Further down the line we find Sollisch in a rather bluesy mood with “Perspective is a Funny Thing”. There’s a great jangly feel to this one, almost like a lost Tom Waits song. Sollisch really pushes his voice here, achieving a distorted roar that is a far cry from his soft, secret confessionals. The second to last track, “God is the Loneliest of Lovers” is another strange one. Here we have a waltzing guitar line over a drum machine that sounds like a home-recording. The lyrics are interesting as well, telling a story of God as a lonely patriarch with only Jesus to keep him company.
With twelve tracks coming in at around 30 minutes, there’s a lot to take in from this full length. The brief songs each take on a life of their own and move the album along nicely. The lyrics are often brutally honest, but hearing them brought to vivid life by Sollisch’s largely understated vocals they retain a tender tone. The album is a complete package that flows smoothly and yearns to envelope you. If you’re looking to experience some truly unique and compelling songwriting, give it a listen.
MP3: Dolfish “Perspective is a Funny Thing”