Album Review: Nothing is Wrong by Dawes

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Riding the coattails of their critically-acclaimed 2009 debut, North Hills, L.A.-based band Dawes began a tour that lasted nearly two years. In September of last year, however, they took a month off of their near-constant touring to record the album we now know as Nothing Is Wrong. Before listening to the record, it was important to consider the context out of which it came, to ask if the experience of touring brought about a change for the better, or rather, for the worse. It is generally the case that a band’s sound becomes tighter due to the necessity of performance, and this development can cause one of two things to happen: the songwriting can become more succinct and powerful, or over-production can cause a band to fade into a mainstream cliché. Nothing Is Wrong seems to encompass both sides of the spectrum, walking the line between them, as it were.

The album begins questionably with “Time Spent In Los Angeles,” a derivative alt-country ode to their hometown, then follows with the mediocre “If I Wanted Someone.” Hope is restored with track three, “My Way Back Home” (video below), which bears the signature poise and thoughtfulness that marked so much of the band’s earlier music, and may in fact be the best to date from songwriter/frontman Taylor Goldsmith. Other gems like “So Well” and “A Little Bit of Everything,” in addition to feel-gooders “How Far We’ve Come” and “Moon In The Water,” prove that his craft has improved immensely, a fact that stands to outweigh the series of forgettable ballads and up-tempos that make up the rest of the album. Even in its weakest moments, though, Goldsmith’s masterful way with words remains, along with his fervent lyrical delivery—they stand as pillars beneath an otherwise crumbling edifice. The album as a whole certainly lacks the cohesion and authenticity that made North Hills stand out years before, but there is more than enough there to redeem it and assure us that the band will not settle into dull conventions and instead develop the traits that make them distinctive from their Laurel Canyon counterparts. C’mon, Dawes, North Hills is depending on you.

Written by Kelsey Upward, Music Writer


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