Sound — 9
"Golden Record" is the 3rd full-length album by LA-based, Maryland rock quartet The Dangerous Summer. After a line-up change, drummer Tyler Minsberg leaving after a reported recurring carpal tunnel injury and guitarist Bryan Czap leaving for personal reasons, singer/bassist AJ Perdomo and guitarist Cody Payne are now joined by Matt Kennedy and Ben Cato. It is debatable about how much of an impact these changes have had, about half of the record being finished before Kennedy joining and with Minsberg only leaving after the recording of the album, but the album is definitely rawer than its predecessors: 2009's "Reach for the Sun" and 2011's "War Paint." While they were originally firmly lodged in pop-punk territory, they may well have dropped that tag now, opting for a more traditional, Jimmy Eat World-esque emo sound. There is still the odd pop-punk number ("Honesty," "We Will Wait in the Fog" and "Miles Apart") but these are interspersed with darker, and heavier, numbers, such as the fantastic "Knives." Opening song "Catholic Girls" sets the mood for an album, seeped with nostalgia, yet always hopeful, it also, musically, sets forth the path of the album. Where this differs from their past releases, however, is in how free this album sounds. Whereas, on previous releases, certain songs felt formulaic, here each one has its own sound. And that is remarkably refreshing, especially as it means that each song leaves as lasting an impression as the last. There are definitely stand-out songs ("Knives," "Drowning" and "Anchor") but the whole album is a strong and cohesive unit. As far as I am concerned, this is their strongest full-length yet in terms of the quality of the songs on offer, and probably their best release, my opinion being tainted slightly by the emotional relevance of their 2007 EP "If You Could Only Keep Me Alive" to me.
Lyrics — 10
From the word go it has been clear that Perdomo is a skilled lyricist. But on "Golden Record" he has definitely progressed even further, the lyrics being more mature, his signature tongue-in-cheek jokes about clichs largely being left out here. He has also found a bit more gravel in his voice (rumoured to originate from a smoking habit, but if this is the result, who am I to complain?) which definitely benefits the raw sound of the record. Songs like "Catholic Girls" and "Sins" are strong lyrically, and "Knives" sticks out, a raw confession to God about waning faith. "Anchor" also stands out due to its use of group vocals, something the band have been reluctant to do before, only using it once (on "If You Could Only Keep Me Alive"'s "Of Confidence") bringing brightness and an anthemic quality to the track, a fitting closing technique, especially as it is probably the truest love song on here, aside from, perhaps, "Sins." The whole lyrical content of the album is varied, meaning there is at least one song for everyone to connect to.
Overall Impression — 10
This is a brilliant release, and it is a shame to realise it will probably slip under the radar for most people, as their past releases have. However, it is promising in the fact that their fan-base is growing slowly, but steadily, and this will only help that growth, as well as holding long-term fans transfixed on the band. While it sounds different, it is unmistakably a release from The Dangerous Summer. No Version 2.0 here, more like Version 1.4. They have show a continued evolution while maintaining the core sound that is why they are loved. This is a rock-solid release that will remain, even if just in the eyes of the few who do pick it up, an album that is one of the greatest emo releases of all time. It may not have the theatrics of My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade" or the mainstream appeal of Fall Out Boy's "From Under the Cork Tree" but this is definitely on that list, just more in the way under-rated front-runners of the scene, such as Jimmy Eat World and Far are. This is not destined to be a huge album. But it will be a cult album. And you can be sure that it will leave a mark on the people who listen to it and take it to heart. Here's to "Golden Record," the new great emo record.