Album review: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s 'It’s a Corporate World'
Give Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. this much: The young Detroit duo has only one full-length to its name, but it’s one decorated with more than a few pop peculiarities. Putting aside the coy playfulness of the act’s name, Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott actually specialize in tenderness, crafting a collection that places a premium on harmonies and a studious reliance on electronics.
Lyrically, it’s sometimes best to simply get lost in the spacey, ultra-crisp digital effects, which generally provide a warm distraction to the folksy pop and scruffy synthetic beats that are at the band’s heart. To be blunt, the world does not need another pair of sweet-singing boys telling us that the only thing they lack is your love, as they do on “Nothing but Our Love.” Yet, the mix of otherworldly sounds and kitchen-sink rhythms are all that’s needed for the synchronized voices to charm on “Skeletons.”
Elsewhere, the title track is a much-needed punch of garage rock energy, and it has fun with company lingo, even if the joke — running one’s life as a corporation — doesn’t quite reach the exaggerated extremes needed to transcend mere cuteness. In fact, the duo is at its best when it strives to make the blue collar endearing, such as on the extravagantly orchestrated ode to the ordinary, “Simple Girl.” On the other hand, tackling the gravity of the late Gil Scott-Heron’s funk-blues “We Almost Lost Detroit” is at this point beyond the Detroit boys’ capabilities. Thankfully, it’s a rare moment of over-ambition.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
“It’s a Corporate World”
Quite Scientific Records / Warner Bros.
Two and a half stars (Out of four)
— Todd Martens