EP REVIEW: Dum Chang – Dum Chang

It is rare to discover an EP that sees a band sticking to a precise sound for the entire EP. They are generally mismatched affairs with the sonic landscape of each song barely even corresponding with one another – a statement that rings true for Dum Chang’s debut self-titled EP. It is an embodiment of the erratic sonic fluctuations that accompany song changes on EPs.

Dum Chang’s sound could be loosely described as the kind of erratic mess that one would find on an artist’s palette or in the notes scribbled in the margins of a Nebula Award-winning science fiction manuscript. Simply put, it is a beautiful mess of the most human proportions that brings to mind the lyric that closes the opening verse of Gym Class Heroes’s “Kid Nothing and the Never-Ending Naked Nightmare”: “I’m only human but admitted I’m such a beautiful mess”.

Dum Chang doesn’t hide their uncertainty regarding their musical career and the kind of niche they wish to carve out for themselves behind bland indie-pop songs that pander towards a broader mainstream audience. The self-titled EP sees them experimenting with a wide variety of musical combination in what appears to be a pretty confident attempt to place themselves above the newest wave of indie bands capitalising on the global and local success of the genre.

“Panther” opens the EP with solemn melancholy as Dum Chang seems to take some influence from heavy use of emotion that dominated the late 90s era of Red Hot Chili Peppers. It takes half a minute for the chaos of the EP to set in as “Panther” explodes into a swaggering indie-pop anthem punctuated by the occasional lick of groove-laden bass riffs and the twinkling melancholy of dreamy synths. “Sunday Blues” throws Dum Chang straight into the territory of jaunty indie rock as they crack open the song with a rather subtle DMC reference – a reference that they maintain as the vocals often morph into DMC-styled rap deliveries. However, “Sunday Blues” is not content to remain solely as an indie rock song as it jumps about the place with its up-tempo indie-pop beats, jagged bass riffs and mid-song breakdown that seems to draw influence from the kind of breakdowns found in hardcore-influenced pop punk. This breakdown is delivered in the tamest way possible as it is merely a snarling burst of distorted bass and blues-styled guitar riffs.

“Taking Point” sees Dum Chang drawing heavily on their love for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Shortstraw with the vocals being reminiscent of that RCHP classic “Californication” while the instrumental stylings of the song are imbued with a quality that reminds me of pre-Youthless Shortstraw. “Atticus Finch” is where Dum Chang truly shines with their loose allusions to To Kill a Mockingbird and trumpet-laced bridges that seem to scream for a couple to perform that classic “spin and dip” dance move. Jangling guitar chords open the song as euphoria-inducing trumpets kick in to give the song a jaunty dancehall atmosphere that is so strongly juxtaposed by the fluidity of the vocals as they cycle from rapidly-delivered rap-styled vocals to crooning indie-pop vocals.

As said before, there is an erratic beauty to Dum Chang’s sound and it one that could easily find itself at home on the stages of major festivals across the globe.

8/10

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