A version of this review originally appeared online at QRO Magazine.
When you flip-off less than ideal circumstances and turn around and make something pretty awesome, that’s rock ‘n’ roll. When you have the gritty smarts of a bunch of Massholes and your music hits a nerve that lands you collaborations with the likes of Gucci Mane, Minks, and Cults and sets you up covering Lady Gaga for Billboard, then you’re Worcester, Massachusetts band DOM, who released their debut EP Sun Bronzed Greek Gods on Burning Mill in April 2010, just three months after they met. That EP generated so much buzz that it was picked up by Astralwerks, re-mastered, and re-released in February 2011.
The buzz is justified. DOM make infectious, cheeky tunes that stand up to repeated listenings, and their debut is dud-free. Sun Bronzed Greek Gods is sun-warped, lo-fi glitz pop, heavy on the tambourine, the sweet fat guitar, and the curtain of haze. The main appeal of the re-master is that it brings DOM to a broader audience. The re-ordering of the tracks is not necessarily an improvement, and the re-mastered sound seems not better or worse—just subtly different. Songs like “Jesus” and “Rude As Jude” still sound almost like they’re coming at you through a tunnel over AM radio. In the last song on the album, “I Wonder,” frontman Dom sings, “Things’ll get trashy,” and the sound quality on the whole record gets a bit trashy at times—even on the re-master, but it’s a shiny sort of trashy, and it’s intentional. It’s the messy-hair, Mickey Mouse t-shirt, purple glitter nail polish, pink paisley Fender, sparkly trash that DOM does very, very well.
It’s easy and tempting to focus on DOM’s insolent aspects. They sing about having “an I don’t really care attitude.” They do a lot of crowd surfing. They get a lot of wasted. But they make really good pop songs with a fair amount going on. These tunes are catchy and have broad appeal, but they’re not simplistic.
Before teaming up with bassist Erik and guitarist Cosmo, Dom and drummer Bobby intended to make electronic music, and many of the songs on Sun Bronzed Greek Gods feature electronic sounds ranging from droning organ and mid-‘80s-esque dance-pop keyboards on “Jesus” to swirling light-filled synth waterfalls on “Burn Bridges.”
Probably the stand-out track on an EP full of strong tunes is the scuzzy pop anthem “Living in America.” The song opens with building ‘80s dance synth and crashing fuzzed-out guitar, and then—of course—a heavy drumbeat kicks in. The distorted guitar shifts into a badass strut behind Dom as he sings, “Babes on the beaches, baby / G’s in the city,” and eventually, “Come and sing it with me, bay-bay.” Like many of the songs on the EP, this is half cheek (the lyric “Forget all you haters / USA is for lovers” seems to echo “Virginia is for lovers”) and half unabashed honesty. When Dom encourages “Put your hands in the air, all my sisters and my brothers,” it’s easy to pump your fist with as much or as little irony as you feel.
DOM makes music to get drunk to, to dance to, to make out to. Sun Bronzed Greek Gods is playful, defiant party music.