Dawes' new album 'Passwords' is an attempt to come to terms with the modern world

Dawes 'Passwords' is an example of Goldsmith's brilliant use of words to give character to the '70s garage rock sound while confessing the hardships of the millennials


                            Dawes' new album 'Passwords' is an attempt to come to terms with the modern world

Dawes have dropped their new album 'Passwords' and it wouldn't be wrong to say that the album gives expression to the highs and lows of the millennials. It is the band's sixth studio album and the fourth release from their own HUB Records. The album resonates with the outlook of a 21st century youth, as it is predominately about the modern age. In a press release, Taylor Goldsmith, the lead guitarist/singer, says, "We're living in such a unique moment in history... Many of these songs are an attempt to come to terms with the modern world, while always trying to consider both sides of the story." 

The band has a unique sound. On one hand, it works out the various facades of the steeping pop sound of the '70s California bands such as the Eagles and musicians like Neil Young, and on the other, Goldsmith's voice is refreshingly modish. The lyrics are progressive with their newfangled juxtaposition of a retro act and ambitious design.

Goldsmith says the songs are a medium to consider both sides of a story and mentions that he has been trying to write about the shifts in his own life. He adds, "I’m also writing about the shifts in my own life, including getting married. Together, the songs process some dark moments – paranoia, anxiety, the wreckage of what you might’ve done in the past – and arrive at some sort of hopeful resolution. I’m hoping it’s our first step into adulthood as a band.”

The album's title has its own significance as it almost immediately gives out the hidden political implications of the album.

One of the songs, 'Crack the Case', which seems to be a more subtle look into the sectarianism of the political spectrum, the lyrics (on the surface) seems to speak about the media, and how in the post-truth era everyone's truth becomes everyone's reality.

The song begins with a slow sync of the piano and the guitar, as the synth hovers in the background building up the droning effect of the song. The guitar plucking follows as the final intro and Goldsmith's voice emerges from the droning backdrop. As the piano keys give a start to the beat drop, the melody and the harmony neatly go hand-in-hand. 

In the Dawes's new album, medley and harmony go hand-in-hand. (YouTube)
In the Dawes's new album, medley and harmony go hand-in-hand. (YouTube)

The opening lines of the song read: "I will do your interview,/ Try to explain what I'm goin' through, /Give you somethin' to read into, /In a million different ways." As much as a crafty take on the post-truth era, it is also about keeping the act of communicating alive, which often goes missing in an age when smartphones do all the talking.

The present socio-political scene revolves chiefly around the internet and its biggest branch, the social media, where everyone has the freedom to voice out their opinion. However, between all the speaking out, everyone forgets to listen. Strangers can take down strangers without personally knowing them. Hence the chorus goes: "Ignoring all of the remedies, /Believing all of the rumors, /With their endless database, /I wanna sit with my enemies, /And say, 'We should have done this sooner', /While I look them in the face, /Maybe that would crack the case."

The songs of the album can be seen as small snippets for a plea to empathy. The song 'Living in the Future' can be said to be the key song behind the composition of the album. As Newsday notes, it almost brings to mind the Native American leader Crazy Horse who stood up against the white invaders during the late 1870's to save his people from the encroachment of the settlers and preserve the culture and tradition of the Lakota people.

It also recalls the protest of Colin Kaepernick, the San Fransisco 49s quarterback, who protested against the iniquity done to the African-Americans and other minorities of the United States, by not standing up for the national anthem right before the 49er's preseason loss to Green Bay. The event followed some ecstatic states of paranoia on the internet and this state of monomania is exactly what is referred to in the song, 'Living in the Future'. 

The intro of the song is a direct transition into the 1970s garage punk sound, as the base and the vocals take over almost at the same point of the interval. The sound certainly gives glimpses of sci-fi rock. A line in the chorus reads: "I'm not talkin' 'bout forever, how 'bout just gettin' through the night?" It reproduces the sense that our generation is all about 'being in the present', and not much thought is being given to the future. Relationships, too, only last for a night, and no one is willing to speak about it the next morning. It draws into the insights of the personal affairs of the millennials who believe that life is all about living today, as there might just not be a tomorrow, which to some extent is true, considering the present socio-political structure. 

'Living in the Future' is a direct transition into the 70's garage punk. (YouTube)
'Living in the Future' is a direct transition into the 70's garage punk. (YouTube)

The song 'Telescope' once again takes the listener to a more psychedelic synth-rock experience, and this song has a specific story to tell. It tells the story of a young boy, whose father leaves the day after he turns 10. The first lines of the song go as, "He watched the Bronco leave the driveway, /The day after he turned ten, /His dad said the van's booked up through Sunday, /Ricky never saw him again."

As the story unfolds, it is discovered that the boy named Ricky, who is eventually left alone, enters into his delusional world. However, like every millennial, Ricky tries to seek answers to the questions which were never asked before... Probably because these are the things that only the millennials are thinking about. 

Goldsmith says, "Songs can be passwords because they're a means of giving access to someone else's perspective, thereby elaborating your own.” He certainly elaborates through the band's album, 'Passwords', into the never compromising lives of the millennials who fight against gun control, support gay rights, are more in for single parenthood, and to whom the world is a place with endless opportunities to explore.

Patience and understanding, which are the very integral elements of the album, are something which millennials are claimed to be lacking. Yet, this is the generation which does not believe in racial boundaries, and will not step back from voicing out their opinions against authority. 

'Passwords' is an album which is well-articulated with an acute unfolding of some very rational songwriting. It is the appropriate sound of the modern era, and it sounds exactly like its generation, diverse and disparate. 

Apple Music users can stream the full album below: