Everybody gets to like Dave Matthews again. Oh Joy. DMB’s ninth album has a classic feel to it, like the band is recalling all the forms of song from their previous albums and celebrating them with new tunes that each have a familiar taste.
On this record are, as usual, songs about funky love and fun as well as songs about what Dave calls “the dilemmas of being alive.” Except this is his most optimistic record yet. It’s part being old, having teenage kids, and part living through a lot of death and pain and substance abuse and still being able to kick it.
Let’s go song by song.
Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)
Who is this? U2?
“Let’s not forget these early days” —I get it, like, don’t forget the early music
Tim Reynolds wakes me up with a guitar and it’s like being born into Dave world for the first time. Hear those coconuts?
song pairing: Dodo/One Sweet World
Who is this? Talking Heads?
“I burn like a junkie for you” —same ol’ lust junkie
This one is incorrigibly fun, although kinda repetative
song pairing: Drive In, Drive Out/Shake Me Like a Monkey
Here On Out
Who is this? Plain White T’s?
“And now I’m open up
I am strong, I am wild” —well, you’ve always been that way, Matthews
It’s lovely, really. It’s just, it sounds like something a hundred other artists could have written. Still, lovely.
song pairing: Ship in a Bottle/Sweet
That Girl Is You
Who is this? Rusted Root?
“What’s your name? How do you do? What’s the game? Hallelujah!” —the four stages of a relationship according to Dave
I just felt like some old man got his dying wish of watching a girl dance to a tribal drum.
song pairing: Grey Blue Eyes/Squirm
Who is this? Aerosmith?
“If you wait too long to taste, the juju is gone.” —no comment
It’s heavy and trippy, although I feel it misses the punch of songs like “Drive In Drive Out.”
song pairing: Seven/When the World Ends
Idea of You
Who is this? Phillip Phillips?
“I faaaaaaaall so haaaaaaard
Inside the idea of you” —You will experience a falling sensation
They nailed it with this one. It begins with a live intro that feels nostalgic, like this tune had existed since the early days and is finally getting a studio cut. Swirling intro, dizzying lyrics, cascading chorus, all with instruments popping.
song pairing: #41/Dancing Nancies/Granny/Crash Into Me
Virginia in the Rain
Who is this? Neil Young?
“You make me feel like a kid again” —I feel like I heard this song before
The song is you in a canoe floating down a river in the rain. Only, the mood is unclear.
song pairing: Out of My Hands/Proudest Monkey
Again and Again
Who is this? Santana?
“Sweet poison sting” —Because the song is naughty fun but makes you dizzy, so, good and bad
This one sounds like it could be a song from a Disney musical that the villain sings.
song pairing: Rapunzel/Crush
What is this, a 90’s sitcom?
Nice as an interlude tho.
song pairing: Kit Kat Jam (or any of those songs at the end of the songs on Before These Crowded Streets)
Black and Blue Bird
Who is this? Phish?
“God a job and it pays me
I want love more than I deserve
Headlines they make me crazy” —all of the above
song pairing: Satellite/Space Man
Come On Come On
What is this? Dave Matthews?
“You look away and I wanna
jump out of my mind” —a good way to capture the mentality behind love in his songs
This one does haves echoes of his earlier work but is just too polished, not weird enough
song pairing: So Right/You Never Know
Do You Remember?
What is this? Jack Johnson?
“We were sinking in quicksand
there’s no rope to save us”
If you just let this one do it’s thing, there is an element that makes you go “weee!” And all the little vocal treats here and there might make you laugh, in a maniacal way
song pairing: Old Dirt Hill/Best of What’s Around
What is this? Brandi Carlile?
“A better way is to let the children run the show” —Have you met kids?
It sounds cute, but lyrically, I’m not buying it.
song pairing: You & Me/Granny
When I’m Weary
What is this? Sarah McLaughlin?
“There’ll be dark dark days
More are coming”
Yawn. Is he trying to make me adopt a puppy, or hug before the apocalypse?
song pairing: Steady as She Goes/Baby Blue
While the album stops just sort of that special weird that nobody else can copy, they still pushed for an outstanding record that was more adventurous than Stand Up, less crowded than Big Whiskey, and less poppy than Everyday. You feel like you’ve entered a Dave-themed amusement park, and each song is a ride. It feels like Dave, sounds like Dave, moves like Dave, and while it’s not the original experience, it’s still worth the admission price. And your mom can probably listen to the whole thing.