A solid mix of old and new
It has now been nearly 10 years since The Dirty Heads first entered the music world with their relaxed brand of SoCal reggae rock. Heavily channeling influences like Sublime, 311 and copious amounts of weed, they scored a #1 Billboard Rock Hit in 2010 with “Lay Me Down.” Like most bands, their sound progressed as their career went on, as they transitioned to more of a pop-oriented feel in their later material. Their signature chill party vibe became more electronic, the drums were programmed instead of played and overall the band distanced itself from their more organic-minded forefathers. This week, the band have just dropped their seventh album, Super Moon.
Those who were disappointed in the band’s poppy changes will be pleased to hear that Super Moon returns a lot of the band’s original elements: actual acoustic and electric guitars, relaxed lyrics with many less-than-subtle pot references and the vocal trade-off between the laid-back rapping of Jared Watson and the melodic singing of guitarist Dustin Bushnell. The reggae influences are strongest on tracks like “Lift Me Up” and “Slow Down,” while the beachy acoustic vibes shine through on “Lighthouse” and “Fear & Love.”
That being said, Super Moon isn’t a complete return to form, there’s still plenty of more modern elements. The title track opens with an immediate horn line directly channeling the song “Vehicle” by The Ides of March, while “Come Back Around” has a reverb-drenched pop chorus similar to modern Ed Sheeran.
There’s another instrument that makes its way into the picture that truly makes some of these songs memorable: the piano. It adds a weird touch to “Tender Boy,” which would have otherwise been a typical acoustic-reggae jam. But the place it really makes a difference is on “Horsefly,” which at its core is an awkward mishmash of rapped verses and a spacey chorus. But with the piano, as well as a flute, tie things together to make it the most experimental and quality song on the album.
Overall, The Dirty Heads do a solid job mixing elements of both their old and new sounds into a product that should please both camps. Is it their best work? Probably not. But the band definitely sounds more at home with their original influences back in the picture, so overall Super Moon is a step in the right direction.