Palindromes, man. Palindromes, everywhere.
St. Louis, Missouri’s So Many Dynamos’ first ever release was a longer palindrome than the group’s name: Are We Not Drawn Onward to New Era?
The follow-up to that EP is today’s album: When I Explode (which is not a palindrome, last I checked) from 2004. It’s a record that contains two of my favorite Dynamos songs: “The Pros of Being a Con Artist” and “Heat/Humidity.” As the first two songs I had ever heard from the band, they became the defacto kings, even though that was kind of the their intention as the album’s two single-worthy songs.
As I addressed when discussing their sophomore release, Flashlights, I saw the group open for HORSE the Band, and yes I know it’s as ridiculous as it sounds. Any band that plays before HORSE should sound like Heavy Heavy Low Low, right?
Wrong. Trick question. No band should sound like HHLL – not even HHLL. No one needs that.
I guess the thread that connects HORSE and the Dynabros is the use of 80s-inspired keyboards and electric drums. It’s glitchy and dancey and fun, but stops short of being 8-bit like HTB.
As a debut, When I Explode is a bit rough around the edges, still fully fleshing out their sound. The limited stumbles include “Let’s Laugh About It Later” and “These Things Happen,” the former of which is hampered by an annoying, needling guitar. The latter is the most demure on the album. I just happen to feel like this type of sound is more befitting of a killer, danceable beat-driven song instead of being a downer. Even if it was a self-deprecating type of humor, I think that works more in the group’s favor than mellowing it out. “When We Were Machines” is a good example of this: not happy-go-lucky by any means, but an upbeat, fun song.
Standouts include the aforementioned single candidates and “A State Without a Springfield,” which is straight out of the Golden Era in the 90s before Creed came along. It’s a rad, grungy little tune that sounds like it would work on a lot of 90s teen sitcoms or Pete & Pete. Stoked on it.
The album ends with “Windows Facing Walls” on the line: “If this is the end of the world, I hope we do a better job next time.”
That line makes me think of the Astronautalis lyric from “Midday Moon” off This Is Our Science, where Andy Bothwell writes: “I wonder if the Maker even thinks he botched the flock, but never had the mettle to make the world stop.”
I think this pretty well surmises the light apocalypse theme of the record, but in such a way that the Dynamos can still laugh at themselves in the face of certain doom. Totally into it.
From When I Explode, this is “Heat/Humidity” –
Standout tracks: “The Pros of Being a Con Artist,” “Heat/Humidity” and “A State Without a Springfield”
Weakest track: “Let’s Laugh About It Later” or
RIYL: HORSE the Band’s 8-bit sound (minus, yanno, all the screamy stuff). Q and Not U, The Dismemberment Plan, Quasi, Thunderbirds Are Now!