Music Review: Dent May – Do Things

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Dent May

Do Things

Available
now on Paw Tracks
(June 12)

“Every day of every year, I wonder what I’m doing here,” sings Dent May on
“Home Groan.” The song is an anthem for small-town kids, or anyone that forgoes
tastemaker cities to stay put. The sentiment is also representative of themes
woven through the album, Do Things, as May muses on existence–from
friendship to finding life’s meaning–with plenty of synth and slightly twisted
Beach-Boys-style harmony.

Lyrically, May is willing to challenge convention. Throughout
the album, he urges listeners to believe in themselves and their ability to
transcend difficulties. “There was a time when I never thought that I’d feel
good again,” sings May in a vaguely doo-wop style on the album’s title track.
The moral of this story? “Do things your own way.” Similarly, “Find It”
empowers listeners, telling them to stand by their dreams and discover life’s
meaning for themselves. “Rent Money” and “Parents” reflect on frustrations
with the adult world and focus on staying true to oneself in spite of
disappointments and obstacles.

There’s not a traditional love song on the album, though
there’s plenty of love. May mentions the importance of friends in at least 4
tracks. And while “Best Friend” seems to address a lover, the focus is on their
long and reliable friendship. “Wedding Day” and “Don’t Wait Too Long” speak to
the challenges of finding romantic love, and in “Tell Her,” he sings about the
frightening prospect of expressing love once it has been found. In each of
these cases, May has an answer: “don’t worry,” “do what feels right,” “say what
you feel.” The takeaway is consistent: trust life’s process and live from the
heart.

Musically, the album is joyful and a bit experimental. May
is not afraid to sound like a warped video tape of a Beach Boys concert, but
most of the time he pulls it off. The liberal use of synthesizer, drum
machines, funky bass lines, and close harmonies make for a lovingly campy sound.
Comparisons to the solo work of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear would be fair. Of course, that makes Dent May a logical pick for Paw
Tracks (Animal Collective’s label). Still, Do Things won’t fail to surprise and–for
Panda Bear fans–delight.

Do Things is a
refreshing combination of experimental play, honesty, and optimism. The
world is a strange, overwhelming place–perhaps most confusing at young
adulthood. Rather than offering tools for navigation, Dent May urges listeners
to throw out the map, get lost, and experience the surroundings. “Don’t know
what’s in store for me,” he sings, “but I think it’s gonna be fun.”

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