Jason Dove: We Should Be Together
Local singer/songwriter Jason Dove is touched a bit by the same jittery pop bug that's infected many indie-pop/rock singer/songwriters on his new album. The former Hotlanta man in Slot Racer and Plexorjet moved to Baltimore in 2003, and in 2005 he released his solo debut, Pronto, which was a little bit all over the place. He finds his rudder on We Should Be Together: straight-ahead guitar-driven pop-punk laced with an entire life's worth of pop reference points sprinkled on hooks, vocal harmonies, and choruses like an AM radio patina. Dove refrains from searching for some pop über-bliss that comes from outright Billy Joel or Lindsey Buckingham worship, instead letting his music feel a little unpolished, imperfect, and invitingly personal.
It helps that Dove has a less than perfect voice, too. "I came over and sat on your couch for a long, long time," he kinda/sorta coos in the intro to "Slumber Party." "You got tired and I got tired of lying around," he continues over a too-pretty guitar line, and just before the song crosses the line into the unforgivably twee, it erupts into a pop starburst of jangly guitars, skipping drums, harmonized lines, and anxious energy. Hate to state the obvious here, but when somebody asks you if you want to, you know, "sleep over," it should be this much nervous fun.
The rest of the album is riddled with such simple joys and casual observations. "Every Aspect of Entertainment (Part 2)" chugs along powered by a skittish guitar and drum pulse until the song splashes into an airy cloud dance, as if the engine was starting to run out of gas, and ends in piano and voice sigh--all in two minutes and 16 seconds. Drums and cymbal crashes tango with spazzy guitar chokes at the intro of "Wishing It Was Over" before the song settles into an easygoing late-summer evening lullaby. Dove can still let rip with textbook indie rock--see: "Stoned on Beer," the wearily hip-slung "When Autumn Comes Around"--but what's bewitching here is how he's absorbed classic radio pop without sacrificing his rough-hewn personality.