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Album Review: The Dont's - Those Delicate Chemicals

Album Review: The Dont's - Those Delicate Chemicals

Considering my usual tendencies towards the darker, brooding, far too narcissistic and self-indulgent end of the musical spectrum, The Dont’s Those Delicate Chemicals embraced my ears with a welcome sense of levity. Their third album (and the first one I’ve had the pleasure of delving into), Those Delicate Chemicals really stands out as being able to deliver the practices of a heady and experimental band through the parameters of a delightful pop-like sound. With its layers of charming guitar riffs, delicately placed textural oddities and an overall exuberant atmosphere, Those Delicate Chemicals could very well be the pop anthem for your art school experience… and I mean that in the most sincere way I can muster.

Considering how surprisingly small San Francisco can seem, it comes as no surprise to hear influences from formerly local avant-rock stars 60-Watt Kid throughout this album (no more apparent then in the final two songs “Backtalk” and “The Will of God”). Perhaps they’re friends, perhaps they’ve just seen each others shows on a number of occasions, but the jagged ethereal and heavy tremolo guitar layers that appear throughout the songs of both bands is obviously comparable. Serving as one of the many interesting layers throughout Those Delicate Chemicals, these wonderfully well-placed interruptions serve a vital role to elevate the pop framework to a vast and intricate soundscape.

Opening with their call and response anthem “Which Side You’re On (The Pirate Song)” Those Delicate Chemicals kicks off with a cheeky wink and a smile. You’d love it if its clarion call asking “what side you’re on” was The Dont’s feeling the waters for whose side the listener is on, but lets not mince words; this is a song about pirates, and pirates will “get it done.” Surly as their “piratic oath” would demand, the song leads its crowd in a triumphant bellowing of “ARRRRRRRRR. “ I imagine this is not a moment to miss at their performances.

Leading immediately into one of my favorite songs on the album, “Breakdown,” Those Delicate Chemicals moves on past its initial playfulness to its slightly more serious, but still jubilant, elements. While the songs change somewhat in tonality, listening across Those Delicate Chemicals it’s hard to pigeonhole it with one thematic quality. Not at all to its detriment, Those Delicate Chemicals seems to lack a greater arch to its narrative. There is depth to the individual songs, but short of the fastidiously executed sound, there seems little that ties them together. Favorites certainly pop out (“Regardless, The Goddess,” “Peacetime,” and “Gasoline” come to mind) but there is a certain distance held between the music and any underlying concept for the album.

Perhaps that's just the point. The Dont’s keep the audience at a distance with their Ramones style surname uniformity, and maybe by withholding just enough the mask serves to direct the listeners attention to the complexities of the sound as opposed to the distraction of a message. The mask is their tool of misdirection.

The Dont’s Those Delicate Chemicals is definitely an album to seek out. Elaborate and boisterous, Those Delicate Chemicals is the type of intelligent and experimental pop sound that is very hard to come by. It carries with it a depth that rivals its avant counterparts, but is delivered with the accessibility many similar sounding artists lack. I encourage you to add it to your collection if for no other reason than to scream “ARRRRR” every time that pirate captain demands.


-Ada Lann


Which Side You're On (The Pirate Song) by thedonts


The Dont's Those Delicate Chemicals can be purchased here.

Published: August 24, 2010 |

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