Dylan Fox and the Wave’s Chasing Shadows LP makes me think about the first time I learned to appreciate my dad’s CD library. My introduction to artists like Warren Zevon, The Grateful Dead, and The Beach Boys opened my ears to excellent songs that far predated my existence. Chasing Shadows is like a love letter to those kinds of past artists, but with an infusion of punk and surf rock modernity, creating an album that despite its faults, oozes profuse amounts of Grade-A, farm-raised, FDA-approved enjoyment.
Distorted guitars, wailing vocals, mighty drums, and simple melodies dominate this album, but it all adds up to something that’s truly greater than the sum of its parts. For example, in “Walk on By,” the second track, the lyrics go “Walk on by” sixteen times in a row. On the surface, that sounds like it’d be a source of annoyance, but the rhythm of the vocals meshes with the steady drumbeat and guitar chords to form an exciting buildup to the song’s main bass riff being suddenly isolated, until the other instruments come back in. It gives the feeling of a deceptively long fuse burning down into a satisfying explosion of crunchy guitar chords and pounding drums. Every track exhibits this same level of excellent composition.
Additionally, from top to bottom, Chasing Shadows LP gives the impression of familiarity and respect for past artists. Dylan Fox and the Wave use the perfect amount of distortion and reverb on their guitars to hit that “surf guitar” sound. The beefy and often cymbal-heavy drums help support this sound, while the wailing vocals are the ketchup and pickles that make this musical hamburger a tasty treat.
However, Chasing Shadows LP isn’t an absolute homerun. If you never understood the allure of surf and punk rock, Chasing Shadows LP won’t cause an epiphany for you. It’ll just sound like more of the same stuff that you don’t want to hear. This is an album for people who like their vocals waily and their riffs repeated, not for people who want earth-shaking kick drums and pulsing synthesizers.
Further hampering the album is that it doesn’t do much that’s “new.” This album is not about changing the world of music, it’s about taking the best bits of older music and sticking them all together like an aural collage. Do not listen to Chasing Shadows LP if you’re all about ultramodern art house music. You will only come away disappointed.
Chasing Shadows LP isn’t the type of album that could be life-changing, but it is the type of alum that could be day-changing. Play it in the car on your drive to work, listen through headphones while you work out, or put it on when you’ve got friends over. Like a good barbeque sauce, Chasing Shadows LP enhances the flavor of life whenever you listen. Its small weaknesses make it tough to recommend the album universally, but if you’re hankering for guitars that are crunchier than a pile of gravel, Chasing Shadows LP is just what you’re looking for.
*Image from Chasing Shadows Cover Art