Quit your job, shred your bills, and toss out all that Perrier in your fridge. The Dopamines are back with a brand new full length album to remind you that maybe life isn’t all that great but at least alcohol exists. After a five year wait between albums, Tales of Interest carries a lot of weight on its shoulders, but in true Dopamines fashion the band doesn’t really seem to care for the expectations that others have set for them.
Tales of Interest is a darker album. While The Dopamines’ lyrical themes have always struck a chord with the jaded and jobless, the glossy production and brevity of the music added an air of humor to them before. Here, the guitars are heavier than they’ve ever been before, and though it’s not uncommon to hear tones like this coming from a midwestern punk band, it’s new for The Dopamines and it lends a more sinister feeling to lines like “I’ve got so much more drinking to do, mistakes that I’ll consequently blame on you” (“The King of Swilling Powers I, II, III”) and “Sometimes I just want to pull out a gun and shower you all in my brains” (“Business Papers,” a re-recording of the band’s contribution to The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore).
That’s not to say that Tales of Interest is a completely new version of The Dopamines. The album’s second half contains a handful of songs with the classic Dopamines structure (“Pavlovian Fixtures,” “Open Letter,” “Expect the Worst”). They’re just played by a band with more experience and confidence in their abilities, and willing to experiment. “Kalte Ente” is an instrumental tune, “The King of Swilling Powers (Part I, II, III)” is three and a half minutes long, and “083133” contains a harsh breakdown, all things that the Dopamines haven’t done before. The band even recorded the album as a four piece (although they’ve toured and played shows with a second guitarist in the past, they officially added Rad Girlfriend Records founder / Raging Nathans guitarist Josh Goldman to the lineup a few years ago)- another first for the band.
Change isn’t something we might not have wanted from The Dopamines, but it’s certainly something that they needed. Another Expect the Worst or Vices this is not, and Tales of Interest is all the better for it.
4 / 5 stars
RIYL: The Copyrights, Dillinger Four, Rivethead