Dolorean - The Unfazed Album Review
Without meaning to confuse people too much, it just goes to show how one single solitary letter can make the same word take on a whole new meaning. In this case, let's take the letter "O", swapped almost unknowingly for its counterpart vowel "E" yet pronounced the same forthwith. Nevertheless, the Dolorean responsible for 'The Unfazed', a five-piece hailing from the westerly confines of Portland, Oregon are literally a million miles away both logistically and sonically from Delorean, the Basque quartet responsible for last summer's excellent electronica record 'Subiza'. Indeed, it's hard to imagine these exponents of what can only be described as old school country folk being enamoured by any form of technology, let alone such fastidious artefacts as synthesizers and samplers.
That's not to say Dolorean aren't fully accomplished at what they do. They most certainly are, having been active for the best part of a decade in which time they've released three long players previous to 'The Unfazed' and served as a backing band for Seattle-based singer/songwriter Damien Jurado. Unfortunately, it would also be fair to say that there are several artists doing this kind of thing so much better, and ultimately in a more memorable fashion than the majority of what's on offer here.
Sure, main songwriter and storyteller Al James knows his way around an opulent melody with consummate ease, but even when examining the constraints under which 'The Unfazed' was created - the album was completed at the second time of asking having had its original contents scrapped in the first instance - its clear to see all is not entirely hunky dory in Dolorean's world.
Taking in the record's ten pieces, there's a nagging recurrence throughout 'The Unfazed' that while Dolorean ooze competence out of every pore, there's a consistency that reads unremarkable in big bold letters across the majority of its musings. Both 'Thinskinned' and 'Country Clutter' aim for the lofty heights Band Of Horses have made their own but neither really shines, the latter owing more to Dr Hook of 'When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman' fame than any credibly perceived artist of the present.
The title track goes down a similar mellow route to Canyon or Mark Eitzel, while 'If I Find Love' has a lamentable air of schmaltz that should come with a free sick bag. However, 'The Unfazed' isn't all-bad. 'Fools Gold Ring' deliver a spacey psychedelic vibe that would perhaps have been better suited at more regular intervals, James delivering the heartfelt line "If you let me back in, I'll give you everything" with sincere aplomb. Likewise 'Sweet Boy' and album standout 'Hard Working Dogs' both display an energy severely lacking for the most part, while the trippy 'These Slopes Gave Me Hope' goes all Darker My Love, for four minutes at any rate.
Overall though, 'The Unfazed' has a feeling of déjà vu running through its veins, and while Dolorean obviously have something to say, maybe a rethink is in order as to how they're best channelling and communicating such thoughts in the future.