Family of Love EP

Rating: 3.3/5.0

Label: Astralwerks Records

It may or may not be their intention, but Dom certainly does an excellent job on many fronts of maintaining the impression that they are bunch of brazenly bratty and unambitious slackers. A five song, 17 minute EP certainly contributes to this image. If that’s not enough, there’s also their several interviews detailing their drug use, and their now infamous Craigslist personal ad, which asked for a “mature older woman” who was willing to cook and play board games with “a cool bunch of d00dz.” A close listen to Family of Love, however, reveals an attention to detail that stands in stark contrast to this slacker image they’ve created for themselves.

The compositions on Family of Love are surreptitiously complex. The details are many and varied, ranging from waves of layered guitars on the track “Damn” to the distortion breakdown on “Family of Love.” There are, however, a few scattered pieces that aren’t necessarily to Dom’s credit, such as the exceptionally goofy phone solo on the song “Telephone.” Perhaps the most unexpected detail is the way in which the songs bleed into one another, making them parts of a larger whole. Even the EP’s most disposable track, the catchy synth-pop number “Happy Birthday Party,” dissolves at the end into ambient noise and random wind instrumentation, from which the next track gradually emerges. The effort to tie songs together is a rare, almost bizarre, undertaking for a five track EP. Dom not only makes this effort on Family of Love, but actually does it quite well.

With the exception of the silly “Happy Birthday Party,” Family of Love actually contains some good songwriting. The title track is emotionally revealing on the subjects of friendship and family, especially given the frontman’s foster home upbringing. “Damn,” with its refrain of “I don’t care about anyone else I know,” is a confident anthem on one of Dom’s favorite themes: debauched self-centeredness. A guest vocalist simply called “Emma” gives us a fun take on the one-that-got-away theme on the song “Some Boys.” While claiming that a five song EP has variety isn’t saying much, Family of Love offers a host of sounds and themes, with the standard quality of pure catchiness.

The biggest difference between Family of Love and Dom’s debut EP Sun Bronzed Greek Gods is a quantum leap in recording quality. Dom’s skill and attention to detail wasn’t nearly as apparent on Gods. The low fidelity of their debut EP was likely at least partially responsible for the band’s immaturity and indulgence being highlighted over their skill as musicians. The complexity and addictiveness of the compositions on Family of Love makes it seem entirely possible that Dom’s charming nonchalance is nothing but a ruse, and that they are an ambitious band after all. It will take more than five songs to know for sure.

by Frank Matt

Key Tracks: Family of Love, Damn

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