The Dollyrots have been doing their style of Ramones-inflected pop punk for about 20 years now. Over the course of all those years they’ve managed to get picked up by the likes of Ben Weasel’s Panic Button label which was an offshoot of pop punk institution, Lookout Records, as well as a stint on Joan Jett’s Blackheart imprint. The band have gone on to have multiple successes on the Billboard charts and managed to get direct fan support to help release the remarkable Family Vacation film and album. Essentially, if you think you haven’t heard this band before, chances are you’re wrong.
What the dynamic duo of Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas have delivered here is a party album suitably built for the best parts of summer and then some. The beating heart of Daydream Explosion is the culmination of a long legacy of churning out pop punk that channels the sensibilities of the Go-Gos and ‘90s alternative rock combined with the kind of riffs that conjure moments of contemporaries such as Teenage Bottlerocket, the Lillingtons, and Masked Intruder. That said, all of the comparisons above and below still come up a little short in adequately describing the gleaming example of loud guitars and saccharine vocals that strikes a balance to create a bit of magic with this album.
That said, there are tons of reference points all over this record. On the first single, “Everything”, starts out with an almost familiar sounding guitar riff like, say, Green Day, before reverting to Cabezas’ more direct approach. It’s also an early salvo of what exactly one can expect on this veteran band’s latest offering. The production is outstanding as it strongly emphasizes the most powerful elements of the band, that being Ogden’s vocal melodies layered on top of one another and those hard charging guitar riffs.
“In Your Face” is a straight up power pop crowd pleaser along the lines of Weezer or Bowling for Soup. The power chord riffs lay back a bit on this track which gives a lot more room to Ogden who unleashes an undeniably catchy chorus that will make for a lot of fun crowd interaction on their upcoming tour. It ain’t Einstein or Sartre but that’s not this band’s goal. It never has been. It’s always been to make a joyous noise and they bring that attitude right into your earhole with this track.
“Last Ones On Earth” is a straight forward rocker that sticks to the plan but has its instances where Ogden channels what Avril Lavigne could have been back when she first arrived on the scene. The back and forth vocals between Ogden and Cabezas are used to great effect on this track. One of the more charming things this band has always done with their little love songs is to keep just enough sharp cynicism in the drawer to keep it from being way too over the top and they do it once again with this song.
In the category of self-deprecation turned self esteem boosts we have two songs that have their own particular charms. “Love You Instead” is a candy-coated blast that recalls the Donnas in their prime with just enough attitude to make this tongue-in-cheek slice of love/hate work. “I Know How to Party” channels Andrew W.K. in such a directly reminiscent way it’s hard not to think that it’s not intended as a wink but rather as a full on, direct reference to WK’s now classic “Party Hard”. Either way, both of these tracks just pile on to what equates to an album that hinges on pure fun.
“No Princess” seems destined to appear in one or another of the many teen and 20-something targeted films or television shows that adorn the various outlets for such things these days. “Oblivious” would be its triumphant b-side that would play over the credits as our heroes ride off into the sunset. It wouldn’t be the first time that the band has been featured in such circumstances and, if history is any indication, some producer or director will surely pick up on these tracks likely sooner rather than later.
While not every single track on this album is a hit there’s enough here that makes it one of the more promising releases in the power pop/pop punk style that’s come out in 2019. For those who have been jonesing for something fun and inherently catchy Daydream Explosion is exactly what you’re looking for. It’s absolutely cotton candy music for the discerning listeners sweet tooth and sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. After 20 years in the game, the Dollyrots show that they still have more than enough left in the tank and enough hooks in their arsenal to keep cranking out delightful nuggets of pure pop in a way that never gets stale or contrived.
Daydream Explosion is available July 12 via Wicked Cool Records.