By Patrick Dalziel (@JoyDscvryPaddy)
What Daddy Issues do isn’t necessarily too ambitious, but it is done with such style that you won’t honestly mind. Their sound could be described as a spin on grunge while stealing melodic cues from indie pop. Both of which their first LP Deep Dream shows an exceptional love for. The whole album is obviously a complete passion project for the Nashville punks. Each song sounds like a celebration of internalised regrets escaping in the most primal way. In an interview with BITCH Magazine, the band stated they were trying to prove “Girls aren’t all sugar and spice and everything nice” which they’ve definitely achieved here.
Deep Dream is not an insidious record by any means however, it’s just a very honest one. Lyrics focus more on introspection and regret rather than explosive bouts of anger. Lyrically the LP is actually very reminiscent of early 2000’s bands such as Brand New and Manchester Orchestra at their prime. Take for example one of the stand out tracks Boring Girls, with its vitriolic rhythm section backing a tale of desperation, regret, and self assessment. Lead singer/guitarist Jenna Moynihan‘s rhymes come off as incredibly amusing and distressing in equal measure here. With the titular “Boring Girl” transforming from her lover’s partner who finds them, to herself as she questions her self-worth, before finally settling upon the guy knowingly stringing two people along. It’s a captivating account of misdirected rage, short in length and high energy, catching the setting perfectly. Before culminating perfectly with “Boring boy, don’t hurt yourself, I don’t think they have guitars in hell”, it’s a satisfying conclusion to one of the most enjoyable songs on the record, but Daddy Issues have larger issues to tackle on Deep Dream.
Take for example I’m Not, written by drummer Emily Maxwell, which tackles the far more disturbing topic of sexual abuse. It’s a very personal song which challenges Maxwell‘s lack of self-worth and how she felt “naked and dumb” after her experience. Yet it’s not a tearjerker, and you feel that was never the type of reaction Daddy Issues wanted to evoke either. Instead, Moynihan‘s harsh vocals are a manifestation of the rage that enveloped Maxwell‘s life after. At no point is her experience being exploited either. Instead, it’s a plea to be open with the traumas haunting you, before they take over entirely. I’m Not shows an incredible maturity in songwriting that a lot of bands would kill to achieve which is especially impressive on a debut album.
It’s a shame then that the next song on the track list is possibly the only weak offering here: a cover of Don Henley‘s 1984 cheese fest Boys of Summer. It’s not necessarily a bad cover, with a punkier edge that’s stylistically in keeping with the rest of the album. There’s also a nice attempt to bring out the angst within the verses, but it just sounds so oppressively twee in the chorus, and no amount of fuzz on the guitar parts will change that. It’s a real misstep and one that prevents Deep Dream from reaching perfection.
Thankfully this only a short escapade, however, with final track Dandelion sounding like a Bossanova-era Pixies single. Based on a toxic ex of Moynihan‘s, it’s viciously amusing and makes for a nice ending to the album, drawing themes of regret and retribution together in a short outburst that you’ll wish was just one minute longer. That’s one thing that is exceptionally refreshing about Deep Dream, the short song lengths make for an album just over half an hour: it’s a perfect length for the music they’re trying to create. No song feels bloated, each one is a calculated and fast paced story.
Overall, Deep Dream is a very pleasant surprise, a mature record with elements of grunge and pop coinciding effortlessly. With a half an hour run time, there really is no excuse to not listen to it.