For the past two years, Dominant Legs has slowly been building their brand name, hoping to break into the larger spectrum of the blogosphere. For the most part the San Francisco duo has succeeded, but the question remaining is whether or not Invitation, the band’s first full length foray would build on that success. After many listens, perhaps the best thing is that the band hasn’t done anything to dissuade listeners from appreciating their recent rise.
Keeping in mind that the first few songs from an album generally are meant to establish a foundation for the rest of the record, it’s easy to say that Invitation begins just by sort of being “there.” “Take a Bow” has a ringing guitar dancing throughout, with splashes of electronics bursting in, but for the most part, it’s sort of an unmemorable track. “Where We Trip the Light” attempts to step it up again, using a lighter mood and a bit more playfulness from singer Ryan Lynch. Sure, the hook’s fairly catchy, generally speaking, but it’s not anything to really shake a stick at.
Perhaps there’s just a bit too much 80s nostalgia coming from Dominant Legs. “Darling Girls” revolves around sort of kitschy electronics, remarkably similar to something one might find on a Richard Marx movie track, albeit one with a more modern singer. Surely there’s a market for this sort of throwback association, but I’m not completely buying into it; it seems forced and contrived. Similarly, “Lady is Sleek and So Petite” uses a very 80s electro-beat to make the song stand up. For some reason, you can’t help but to recall various scores to movies that you vaguely remember and certainly care nothing about. Sadly, that sometimes is the feeling you get from this entire record.
In comparison to the group’s EP, Young at Love and Life, nothing on Invitation really has that freshness; it all sounds awfully bored and disinterested. At times, the vocal interplay between Lynch and his bandmate Hannah Hunt is cute and affecting, but Lynch far too often seems like he’s trying to mimic a bit of Dan Boeckner, to no avail. Even still, those bright moments get nixed by the inclusion of unnecessary saxophone solos.
For all the hype surrounding Dominant Legs, it’s hard to put this listening experience into words. Song after song, I’m grudgingly reminded of my childhood, forced to listen to FM radio in my sister’s car. Not a one of these songs is necessarily bad, but for the most part, none of them is really good. You keep skipping tracks on Invitation, hoping to find one that catches you. For me, it just never happened. I didn’t hate it, I just couldn’t find something worth coming back to again and again. It’s a large miss in my book, but fans of the band will surely find redeemable qualities in it.
Download: Dominant Legs – Where We Trip The Light [MP3]