Bubblegum-punk duo The Dollyrots are back with an impressive sixth studio album, ‘Whiplash Splash’, a relentlessly upbeat album that manages at once to cast reflective gaze back at a genre all but lost to history, while simultaneously providing enough innovation to keep you fist-pumping the whole way through.
It’s no surprise that a band whose roots grow deep into the concrete of LA’s diverse landscape would grow so many spiralling tendrils of influence of their own. In 13 tracks, The Dollyrots touch on everything that’s remotely a genre on the pop-punk road (no surprise, given their 17 year history), from pop-rock, to power-pop, to a ska-influenced jam.
There’s even a ‘Walking On Sunshine’ cover thrown in there for good measure; you’ll likely be as fired up by the selection as you are fatigued by it. Taking the songs on their own individual merits, they illustrate a pretty eclectic palate of tastes from songwriters Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas, tributing a longstanding body of work.
Keeping purists happy, the more riotous offerings contain a full complement of “woos”, “oh yeahs” and “come ons” that help drive both the punky, throwaway opening track ‘I Do’ and later call-to-arms effort, ‘Dance Like A Maniac’.
The album truly comes alive during the quieter moments; ‘This Addiction’ kicks off like something that The Cure would’ve written, throwing the band even further back in the time-warp, before they race to catch themselves in the present by the chorus, and the whole thing takes on a gorgeous Best Coast vibe.
The lyrics to ‘Pack Of Smokes’, which concern abandonment, are an insight into a vulnerability that betrays a deeper intelligence. ‘Jump Start This Heart’ plays it just the right side of the line of electro-pop, a surprisingly mature song, and it could even be considered twee if it weren’t made (like everything else here) with boatloads of confidence.
‘Other Trucker’ is the only serious misfire on this album, leaning too far into poppy/reggae, No Doubt territory; cross-bred with a radio-friendly title that just leaves the whole thing feeling lame.
Overall, ‘Whiplash Splash’ is refreshing, buoyant, but laced with the implication of darkness. Put simply, the depth of the music hides beneath the naivety espoused on the surface, or as Ogden sings on ‘City Of Angels’, “Walking down a 7th street, but I’m not worried / Got a key between my knuckles like a switchblade.”
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)