The LA rock quartet Dawes returns in high sprits with fourth album All Your Favourite Bands, inviting you into a world of quiet innocence and clever lyrics in their folk-tinged new record. Taylor et al seem happy to sit back and let the music talk here, but do they manage to hold the album together as well as previous efforts?
You’re immediately thrown into classic Dawes territory with album opener Things Happen; plucked strings kick into a riff over lively drums, with Paul Simon-esque rhymes and reasoning littered over the top. Its gentle but forceful nature is clever in its presentation, and helps style the songs overall tone. Somewhere Along The Way feels like Elvis Costello and Ryan Adams joined forces (strange I know, but it works), all built around a country chorus, featuring some strong lyrical imagery: ‘The dream and the circumstance continue their tortured dance’.
What helps centre this record is album-titled track All Your Favourite Bands. It’s a think-piece of good times, keeping hold of them, and reliving them forever. It also features all the parts a great ballad should have: build up, heartache, humility and passion. Having this all play out halfway through the record was a brave decision, but really pays off against the strong melodies and song construction in the second half of the record.
Talking about strong melodies, none is better than on album highlight Right On Time. Simple but dominant drums accompany you throughout, and when this is sent against a hypnotic rhythm and most innovative vocals on the record, you’re onto a winner. To Be Completely Honest must also be mentioned for its vintage sound of 70s favourites like Fleetwood Mac or The Band, whereas Don’t Send Me Away’s broken guitars pull off a sound that Sting would have enjoyed playing with in his prime.
Add all this together and you have a deeply personal sound, which is covered in a blanket of folk wonder. Dawes have made a clear and positive album here, and one that runs deep into the veins of the band. Whether you’re looking for something warm and welcoming, or something with a bit of depth, All Your Favourite Bands manages to cater for the many, but still make it feel personal to the solo listener – an impressive feat to pull off.