Dead Sara first hit the scene in 2012 with their self-titled debut, but perhaps this is the first time we’re actually getting to know them. Known for their hard rock sound and unchained vocals the band keeps this sound, but expands it to make their music fuller and more diverse. The changes aren’t extreme, rather they’re trickled throughout the album where you know something is different when you hear it. Not only is the LP exciting and rocking, it shows how the members have grown as musicians.
Emily Armstrong comes out swinging on the opening track “Suicidal” with her rough vocals and how she coos “hoo hoo” during the chorus. The music snarls and rips through the track with a hint of southern rock. It opens the LP in an intense way. The band really gets in your face, grabs you by the throat and won’t let go until the album’s done. “L.A. City Slum” is full of gritty guitars that give that punk attitude. The band really lets go during the bridge where racing riffs collide with jarring horns for a chaotic, yet distinctive sound. Everything keeps pushing forward, getting louder and louder til it reaches its climatic end. It’s topped off with Armstrong snarling “I don’t care what I don’t know about.”
The band previously gave us a taste of the new material with the single “Mona Lisa,” which has this southern gospel feel to it thanks to the humming at the beginning. It has that irresistible and somewhat sultry chorus of “I know what you want/but it’s not gonna be what you like” as if saying I’m not giving into you that easily. The way Armstrong says “Throw some salt over your shoulder, baby!” show the slight soul influence mixed in with the rock vibe. Another song that does this is “Mr. Mr.” From the slick, dirty riff intro to the drawl of Armstrong voice, the music has a tinge of the Blues. It actually reminds me of something Janis Joplin would do. The guitar solo is sick; there are so many trills at high speeds it seems like Siouxsie’s fingers should be on fire.
Though they manage to mix things up, they never abandon their hard rock roots, which can be found on almost all the tracks. “Lovesick” is a gritty jam with a distinct grunge vibe. The whole thing sounds dirty and rough as Armstrong sings “I’m okay, I’m alright/I believe it this time.” The chorus is the title repeated over and over, but how fierce Armstrong sounds and the brutal assault of the music really makes it stick. “Something Good” is really bright and upbeat. It’ll put you in a summer mood as it sounds like something you would play on a long drive. “Feels Right at Home” is more awesome dirty, muddy rock music inspired by southern rock. The way the riff drips and trickles over the song is delicious. The song takes an interesting turn during the bridge when Armstrong begins speaking Spanish and the beat grows into a rapid Samba before returning the slick music. “Radio One Two” is one of the weaker songs on the LP. While it still has that hard rock vibe, it doesn’t manage to deliver the punch like the other tracks do. This could be because this one seems the most influenced by pop music. It actually sounds like it was made for radio. Though it’s not as good as the other tracks, it’s still tolerable.
The closing track “For You I Am” is a powerhouse. Even though the song is slower than the others it’s still intense as hell. The music slowly builds up as Armstrong sings in a higher register showing she can be sweet when she wants to. The way it progresses makes it seem like the band’s coming closer to you, everything getting louder and more chaotic. You can feel the tension of the track welling up and when Armstrong screams “I don’t wanna die” it breaks your fucking heart. It sounds like the band put their life and soul into this track. When the final note rings out you can hear everything being squeezed out of them. It’s a hell of a way to end the album and comes off as their magnum opus.
We already knew how amazingly good Dead Sara were, but with this album they show they’re fucking phenomenal. Everything on this album is cranked to eleven for a harder edge, harder vocals, and dirtier vibe. There’s not a single song you’ll want to miss and there are bound to be plenty to put on repeat. Not only has the band improved their beloved hard rock sound, they’ve expanded upon it. You can can the slight influences from funk, soul, and pop throughout the album making everything fresh and exciting. This could very be the best album of 2015. Go get a copy if you haven’t yet. I promise you won’t be disappointed.