Reviewed by Paul Fellowes
If you’re aware of who Dropout Dan is, you’ll be particularly surprised by his latest work. His first EP, Do You Remember?, can only be described as a piece of work with reasonable talent, but lacking in definition, character and professionalism – it was as though he wasn’t quite sure who he is. However, times have moved forward and, along with it, he seems to have done so too.
Forever, Instead is marked as Dropout Dan’s second EP release and showcases a much more mature set of songs that really enable the listener to believe that he has found himself and his music in an astonishing way.
From the very beginning of Oh, Little Red, you’ll notice how he has changed. Where beforehand he tried to muster up a sound similar to Oasis, but also mixed with the likes of Frank Turner and other particularly English musicians – this time round he has focused very much on his own strengths and used them accordingly. The element of unorthodox composition is immediately notable with intricately detailed passages and backings being scattered around the structure of the song at all points, though, this seems to become a theme of the EP itself and doesn’t steer far away from the likes of Alt-J’s experimentalism.
Another comparison that you’d not be judged for making comes in the form of Frank Turner. On Puppy Fat, there’s a distinct similarity. The music is driven by acoustic tendencies and the growl in the vocal really does match the description – however, there’s not quite an aggression that is what has come to define Frank in music, which begs the question, can Dropout Dan gain a respected place alongside such names?
The Sound Of Faking confirms that, yes, he very much can gain a respected place in such a dog-eat-dog industry. He performs this track with vigour, venom and conviction that differs very much from previous comparisons – it’s a lot more like 30 Seconds To Mars and the production of it all is magnificent.
The small bell or piano riff that centers itself within the guitar really seems to boost the whole track and, the energy behind it enables the listener to truly get involved.
Some form of schizophrenia seems to take place in Sentimental. A call and answer session from two voices from the same man make up the verses, but, once the listener’s head can get around that, this equally enigmatic track has many positives, including the ability to cause a surge of excitement in the audience’s mind. A harsh ending may leave the listener with some form of void that need’s filling but this is quickly supplied with the final track, Like The Stars.
The production on this one isn’t as subtle as on the earlier tracks, but it’s a beautiful way to end the show and the offering a more distinct vocal is always pleasing. You can hear the fantastic lyrics and their echo causes them to resonate for moments after they’ve actually been said. “From when you took me down, to the water’s edge, and you threw me in, and never called again” are the words that really cut deeply, just like Dropout Dan surely intended – a story is told in that few seconds, one that lasts a very long time.