I like Dentist. I mean, I like them — as people. We’ve had drinks together. We’ve talked about music, bands, coaching rec soccer. They’re one of the bands I write about here with whom I’ve become friends. I thought about what that would mean when it came to reviewing their debut, self-titled album. “Should I give this to a guest reviewer?” I thought. Then I came to my senses. The reason I’ve gotten to know Dentist over the last year or so is because, whenever I could, before I ever knew their names, I would make an effort to get out to their shows. I really like Dentist’s music.
Formed following the demise of popular Asbury Park indie-pop band No Wine For Kittens, Dentist take their sound into some noisier, lower-fi places while retaining the airy and ethereal vocals of Emily Bornemann. The current line-up also includes former NWFK members Justin Bornemann on lead guitar and Andy Bova (who produced) on drums along with relatively new additions Nick Kaelblein on bass and Matt Maneri on keys. Dentist combine elements of surf rock, dream pop, and punk into a reverb-laden sound that’s unique among bands calling Asbury Park home.
Dentist opens with short garage rocker “Pretty Lady.” The song barrels along at a breakneck clip, slowing down only briefly during a short bridge that sounds like a lazy day on the beach, before closing out on a beefy guitar solo and some frenzied Emily Bornemann vocals that ultimately break up into laughter.
“Fruit and Cake” spends almost half of its time on a surf-tinged intro and could work as an instrumental with its guitar-driven hooks. But then Emily’s low-in-the-mix, forlorn vocals come in, with lyrics like “You know that I want you” and “Make me whole,” smoothing some of the surf-rock edges into something dreamier.
The rest of the record is peppered — no, more like packed — with hit-worthy tracks that showcase Dentist’s ability to craft a catchy pop song while dressing it up with interesting flourishes: The keyboard and guitar interludes that accompany Emily’s sweet pining for a life as simple as her cat’s on “Dolce” (See what I did there?) and her break-up announcement on “No Matter;” the straight-ahead, rumbling surf rock of “Retired Lifeguard;” the quick chord hits that precede the Pixies / Breeders-influenced chorus of “Bird in the Cage;” the surf-rock-but-not-quite of “Koko B. Ware.”
Things slow down for the final two tracks, and Emily — who has been behind several layers of noise and reverb to this point — steps a bit more to the front. “Too late now. Too late now. I feel it in my bones,” she sings as the music crests and the 50s-esque melodrama builds on “4 Dollar Stoli.” She’s “waiting for my world to be destroyed” on acoustic closer “Dinosaur.”
You should go to Dentist’s record release show this Friday and pick up their new album because they’re a great group of people, and I’d love to see them succeed. More importantly, though, you should go to Dentist’s record release show this Friday and pick up their new album because they’re making some of the most fun and interesting music coming out of our area right now. Dentist covers a lot of musical ground that — if you’ve been reading CoolDad Music for any length of time, it should be clear — I really enjoy. And Dentist currently sits very high on my list of “Favorite Albums of 2014.”
Dentist will also be the debut release for Speak Into My Good Eye’s Good Eye Records.
What?? Oh, OK. I like Speak Into My Good Eye…