Everything is awesome©
If optimism were a crime, Dent May would be long behind bars. On upcoming album Late Checkout, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter transports listeners to his happy place via effervescent soul, minimalist instrumentation and inescapably cheerful crooning. Late Checkout is a relentlessly upbeat journey through May’s psyche that will leave fans always looking on the bright side of life.
May’s latest album takes it slow, for better or worse. Each track is unapologetically laidback, imploring listeners to kick back and relax in the summer heat. “Sea Salt & Caramel” and “Bungalow Heaven” are perhaps the most aggressively cheerful songs on Late Checkout, evoking vibes of sunshine, warm hugs and mouth-watering dessert. While “Sea Salt & Caramel,” a syrupy love song to his girlfriend, is somehow even sweeter than it sounds, “Bungalow Heaven” depicts an idyllic Sunday afternoon in suburbia. When listened to successively, listeners will experience vivid hallucinations of May strumming a ukulele atop a sun-swept porch, barefoot and sipping a piña colada.
That said, “Bungalow Heaven” may not be quite as happy as it initially sounds. Despite its easy-breezy vibes, May’s lyrics starkly belie the song’s easy-breezy feel. “I hope you’ll come by soon/ You always have a place here in my heart… I take a walk around the block/ To wash away my gloom.” Though chilling in paradise, May isn’t exempt from feelings of boredom, loneliness or insignificance.
“Full Speed Ahead” and “Easier Said Than Done” are sentimental odes to the happiness of a successful relationship. Both tracks are buoyant, sappy love songs that touch on May’s initial trepidation while focusing on his current euphoria. In “Full Speed Ahead,” May croons: “Everyday I pinch myself/ To feel that I’m not dreaming anymore.”
Meanwhile, “Didn’t Get The Invite” is exactly what it sounds like–an all-too-relatable tale of being left out of friends’ social gatherings. May owns his solitude proudly, stating “I’ve seen a video of almost everyone I know/ At a karaoke bar just down the road… Still that’s alright/ I’m staying home tonight.” May manages to find the silver lining of every situation, that much is apparent. His optimism, however, certainly isn’t for everyone. “Didn’t Get The Invite” is a prime example of something Late Checkout possesses none of–grit. May’s music doesn’t possess the slightest hint of raw, gritty, upfront emotionality. The result is smooth, sweet and often sanitized, and won’t appeal to listeners searching for more direct or traditional soul.
If Late Checkout is a journey of self-discovery, it’s one that’s already over. May’s latest album packages his various struggles–with friends, career, love, and life–neatly, with a bow on top. The drama has ended, the lessons have been learned and everything is happy. Though his deceptively melancholy lyrics often reveal his past internal conflicts, May’s music remains buoyant to a fault. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, one that certainly won’t appeal to all listeners.
On one hand, Late Checkout could be described as a complex, multilayered trek through an aging singer-songwriter’s assorted troubles. Conversely, it could also be described as a collection of sickly sweet, highly sanitized pop songs with little readily available emotional depth. While Late Checkout will likely dissatisfy those in search of something more visceral or rewarding, it’s ideal listening for fans of happy-go-lucky bedroom.