In the current-day New York music scene, a crowded, hectic mixing pot of sounds and aspirations, there are two sub-genres that have found a way to stick their necks out in recent years. The first, garage rock, is the least-modern of the two sub-genres, pulling influences from the early-200s resurgence of the genre coerced by The Strokes and TV on the Radio. But then there is indie pop, the progressive, dynamic sound that has been especially popularized by Vampire Weekend.
The two distinct, vastly different genres find themselves coalescing on the Dolly Spartans’ new project, Time Sides With No One, a five-track EP that comes as the third release from the New York City outfit. The band has classified itself as “garage pop” since its firs release in 2014, but it’s never been as clear as it is on this new project. From the first track, Michael Eliran’s vocals — his inflection more reminiscent of the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas — start with a gut-punch, “It’s been a while since I got sleep / But Sunday nights, they don’t come cheap / I lay awake until I have no other promises to keep.” Then, Eliran’s raspy, distant voice pairs with the bright, energetic guitars, waking the first track up, not resting until the glossy, poppy outro. The second track, “Hanging Out,” ties in a bit of surf influence, again with colorful guitars, though it clashes with Eliran’s voice, despite another catchy hook.
The entire album brings through memorable melodies that are easy to groove to with strong bass lines, and are paired with simple lyrics on many songs. But Eliran’s writing, at least on the verses, always returns to a rather gloomy take on things, including on the last track when he sings, “I’ve given up a lot to be myself,” over and over until it’s etched into memory. Where Eliran’s singing goes into darker places, the band — composed of Jesse Barovick, Steven Bartashev, Max Beirne-Shafer and Richard Porteous — follows, with a more brooding garage rock sound, as it comes through on the rather-mournful final track.
Still, whether it be misery or the bright excitement that comes through on tracks like the single, “I Hear the Dead”, Eliran finds a way to make the tracks catchy. In New York, it’s rare to find something that can have a sense of originality to it, but in catchy, groovy songs with lyrics that can, at times, pack a punch, Dolly Spartans have found a way to do exactly that — be original.
Recommended If You Like: The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Jeff Rosenstock
Recommended Tracks: 1 (When The Wheels Stopped Moving), 4 (It’s Not Easy), 5 (Time Sides With No One)
Do Not Play: 2 (Hanging Out)