The band that brought you perhaps the more earnest indie cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is back for their second lap around a genre mostly steeped in distant emotions and cool facades. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is unrelentingly sincere, as seen with opening track and reprise “Beautiful Dream.” You’re essentially starting your day with ethereal croons of just how lovely the non-waking world may be. Given the state of Detroit as it stands, it comes as no surprise that DJJ would opt for sleep to open things up.
You’d think that their latest LP would be weightier than The Speed of Things, though. There are the occasional morose moments, but overall, the band’s sophomore album is dripping with saccharine hooks and vocals tumbled in throwback synth flourishes. For DJJ, it seems that the speed of things is meandering and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even the album’s first single, “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t on the Dancefloor)” is more disco comedown than ramped up party. The core duo of Daniel Zott and Josh Epstein seek to hone their sound than concoct a revelatory missive on the state of things.
It’s that nonchalance that makes The Speed of Things somewhat a timeless record. “Run” has the spirit of the ’80s while “Gloria” gets the early ’70s on lock. DEJJ do a good job of straddling genres and eying decades with a type of reverence that’s rare in indie music today. They’re an earnest band who may have taken the greater risk in their work by simply choosing to stick to what they know rather than opt for complete reinvention. Granted, The Speed of Things is a definite update from It’s A Corporate World. Gone are the twee lo-fi elements that made DJJ sound so distant. It’s as if the band is standing right in front of you baring it all.