The soothing, sea-side inspired sounds of the new Dutch Criminal Record EP – Apathy Mixtape.
Apathy (noun): lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern. Initially, I struggled to see how this mixtape could be described as apathetic. I mean…the recipe of this four-track EP stays true to the beloved surf-rock, Indie sound of the band – but – with the addition of some new spices. A sprinkle of genre-blending and a pinch of tone-experimentation, make this an EP like no other in the discography of Dutch Criminal Record. It then dawned upon me that apathy, in relation to the EP, is more aptly described as effortlessness. ‘Apathy Mixtape’ oozes all the confidence of a band that know their strengths yet continue to take themselves out of their comfort zones. This new musical direction for DCR truly sounds like a natural progression – it is yet another achievement in what has been an incredibly successful year for the boys.
Hailing from the South-coast of the UK, Dutch Criminal Record is Joe Delaney-Stone, Sam Thrussell and Joe Frampton at its core. With it being a decade since the release of their first self-titled EP, the band have matured from their early energy-driven Indie-pop sounds to the more calculated, sombre tones that make up ‘Apathy Mixtape’. Having signed to the AntiFragile Music label in June this year, the band find themselves in a time of breakthrough and change. This new chapter arrived with the release of the EP’s lead-single ‘Oat Milk’ – a beautifully melodic Indie hit that cherry picks elements of Shoegaze in a brilliant blend of genres.
Check out ‘Apathy Mixtape’ by Dutch Criminal Record on Spotify
I am particularly drawn to Delaney-Stone’s buttery vocal melody on this song which is musical simplicity at its best. Catchy, fitting and melancholic, Delaney-Stone’s vocals evoke a sense of nostalgia amongst shimmery synth chords and Thrussell’s reverbed guitar. A cutting guitar solo leads the dance halfway through the track in a moment of impressive instrumentation consisting of hammer-ons, bends and tremolo picking. We are then plunged into the final chorus, which features the ingenious addition of a singular new note played on the bass guitar. I love moments like this in music, where a subtle change has a large effect on the mood and emotion of a repeated phrase, consequently making it stand out. We are finally left to bask in the glory of the ending’s instrumentation and boy is that sample a nice touch.
With the second track of the EP, the listener is invited into a more intimate setting initiated by Frampton’s lonesome drum opening. Aptly named ‘Come Closer’, the second track is a classic Thrussell ballad that pays homage to previous releases such as ‘Lights Up’ and ‘Living In Dreams’. Thrussell’s lyrics depict dependency in a relationship as somewhat inevitable and often gratifying. This notion is also cleverly voiced musically through the entwining of melody and harmony during the line “come closer I’ll make it right”. The middle-eight section is comprises Beatles-esque “ahh’s” until that all familiar plucked guitar riff returns to remind us that we indeed need DCR as much as they need us – the fans.
The third track titled ‘Cigarettes on the balcony’ is a display of delicate songwriting. An ode to simply existing, the most stripped-backed song on the EP lulls its listener into a state of ultimate relaxation with its clean, spacey guitars and airy vocal lines. The most poignant moment of the song is no doubt the heavenly harmonies that accompany the lyrics “cos I can’t help missing you” – a moment of ethereal beauty. The fourth track ‘Apathy’ is perhaps my favourite. From the memorable 60s sounding guitar riff to Frampton’s tight drumming, ‘Apathy’ captures the raw talent and chemistry of DCR. Structurally, this song is close to perfection. That riff always returns at the right time and never overstays its welcome – like the fun aunty at family gatherings. The DCR boys and Rob Quickenden make a great production team as sonically this song is rich, teeming with layers of congruent instrumentation. As a listener, the collaborative effort is received. With verses sung by both Delaney-Stone and Thrussell, ‘Apathy’ is DCR at its best.
‘Apathy Mixtape’ is a taste of what’s to come. The highly anticipated debut album by Dutch Criminal Record is on its way – we look forward to being wowed!! Follow the band on Instagram, Facebook and wherever you listen to music! And why not check out more of what we’ve been listening to this month, here!