With every further listen of The Dangerous Summer’s self-titled album from last year, it feels more and more like they weren’t ready to release new music when they did. Releasing it in January wasn’t exactly the best start from the off, but arriving barely six months after their announcement of coming back from hiatus felt like an opportunity to get something new out into the world and very little else. The album itself did nothing to debunk those theories either, as a serviceable recreation of the emo they made their names with, but in a fashion that felt almost workmanlike in its lack of distinct flair or anything beyond a fairly standard baseline. Thus, it makes sense that this follow-up is coming not even eighteen months later; if the self-titled album capped off the hiatus, then Mother Nature could be The Dangerous Summer’s opportunity to stretch their legs more and return to the dense, heart-tugging emo they’ve become so synonymous with. And given that pretty much every pre-release track has done just that, Mother Nature could indeed by the step back up that’s so necessary after an unfortunately-timed bump in the road.
But while this album is most certainly a return to form, to simply leave it at that would be a disservice to just how The Dangerous Summer have re-solidified their sound in possibly their strongest effort to date. The improvements are stark, sure, but in the context of their whole career, Mother Nature feels like the bigger, more visceral effort that’s been shown in glimpses, but never given the floor to this extent. It’s honestly great to see, not only because it’s pushing The Dangerous Summer closer than ever before to fiery, driven emo that they’ve typically be on the fringes of, but because it’s probably their strongest body of work to date for just how much they’ve stepped up.
That does come with a potential caveat though, specifically that it’s a prevalent feature in how the band are presenting their emotions rather than what those emotions are. It’s not like that has no worth – and indeed, comparing the tumultuous, unstoppable force of significant life events to forces of nature comes with its own brand of viscera – but drawing attention to their enormous scope and power comes with a pliability that’s utilised extremely well. There’s a simplicity that comes from the natural imagery on tracks like Bring Me Back To Life and Virginia that always works on tracks like these, but the tremendous standout comes in AJ Perdomo’s vocal delivery. There’s a rasp and rattle that just sounds phenomenal on the melancholy of Where Were You When The Sky Opened Up and the title track, and it brings a sense of real humanity to the combustible screams of Way Down or the pockets of joy and finality that creep into Consequence Of Living. It’s borderline unshakable stuff, reliant on power throughout but never drowning out the richness or emotion.
And really, after that, it’s pretty much no question whether or not The Dangerous Summer can extent this to a home run. The main issue with their self-titled album was some rather bland, nondescript writing, after all; they’ve always been absolutely fine at crafting organic, skyscraping melodies, and tying them both together here just makes it clear how important each one is for the other. The coarse rumble of Blind Ambition brings an accompanying heft and size that’s equally present in the writing, as do the snarling, self-immolating churns of Way Down and the more pensive alt-pop of It Is Real. It really does come back to size and how The Dangerous Summer use it to their advantage; they’re able to bring the both the devastating weight and the moments of beauty that an album called Mother Nature demands, simply by bulking up a rather standard emo formula basically to its absolute limits. Perhaps a bit more tangible experimentation wouldn’t have gone amiss, if only to fuller hammer home the force that The Dangerous Summer are looking to capture here, but as far as truly enormous melodies go, this album is kicking the door down more furiously than this band have ever managed to pull off before.
And honestly, to see them finally get to a point where that’s possible to assert is wonderful to see. The Dangerous Summer have always prioritised style over substance, and to see that at last pulled off to such an enormous extent really does show what this band are capable of when they do push themselves and operate at the peak of their powers. It’s not even like Mother Nature is on course to change the game or break any boundaries either, but as far as staggeringly potent and heartfelt emo goes, The Dangerous Summer have risen up the ranks and pulled out all the stops for something fantastic.
For fans of: The Wonder Years, The Maine, Mayday Parade
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Mother Nature’ by THE Dangerous Summer is released on 14th June on Hopeless Records.