Mastering Concision – Misadventures of Doomscroller Review

Keaton Shaffer, Staff Writer

Ever found yourself taking a break to check your phone for a few minutes, only to realize it’s been over an hour? If so, you’re not alone in the struggle, and if not, you’re one of the lucky few. It’s no secret that our generation has a love-hate relationship with scrolling. Sure, in some instances, it can be a relaxing escape from the worries of the day-to-day, but it’s also becoming more and more commonplace to pull out your phone during a short break between classes or an awkward silence. More often than not, social media has started acting as an endless abyss of content, which only encourages the constant scroll.

This culture of scrolling was a major inspiration for indie folk rock band Dawes’ new album, Misadventures Of Doomscroller. The album was released this summer on July 22, and though the title might elicit visions of some eternal internet page, there is more to the album than just advice on curbing time spent online.

During its prolific, over 10-year-long release history, Dawes hasn’t shied away from innovation in its genre. It’s accurate to say that Dawes is a rock and roll band with folk, Americana and roots rock influences, but if that doesn’t sound like your usual style, don’t let that turn you away. Across their eight studio albums and two live albums, Dawes has done a fair amount of experimentation, substituting the Laurel Canyon sound of their first albums for more pop and electronic inspired rock songs in the following years, which as of today have been synthesized into the clean and concise sound of their recent work. 

Now, with Doomscroller, the band has seemingly transitioned into a more jam-heavy style, though not abandoning the compendious approach they’ve become known for. The album totals around 46 minutes and consists of seven songs, all of which, bar one musical interlude, exceed five minutes. In fact, the intro and outro songs, “Someone Else’s Cafe / Doomscroller Tries To Relax” and “Sound That No One Made / Doomscroller Sunrise” respectively, are both nearly 10 minutes long, each with two parts split by a musical break. These relatively long times don’t feel drawn out though, and rarely overstay their welcome. Every one of the songs feature an engaging instrumental break, and most make time for one of the band members to demonstrate their mastery of the art with a solo. The band does a very good job balancing those extended melodic sections with frontman Taylor Goldsmith’s euphonious vocals, a practice the band has become more than proficient in. 

Despite the introduction of the sweeping musical intermissions, Dawes has maintained one of their defining characteristics; everything included in the album, down to each individual lyric and progression, feels necessary to the whole of the work. Both the technical and abstract aspects of the album are realized completely; there’s no fluff here, and that’s not a criticism. 

When it comes to the commentary of the album, singer Goldsmith’s lyrics never feel accusatory or preachy. In fact, the down-to-Earth nature of songs like “Everything Is Permanent” and “Comes In Waves” make Goldsmith’s opinions about how social media has changed our culture or the cyclical nature of happiness appear much more relatable. The listener is never talked down to; they are instead captivated by honest anecdotes and expressions. Because Goldsmith never comes across as smarter than the listener, the discussion feels less like a lecture and more like catching up with a friend. 

Even if folk rock isn’t your usual preference, the meticulous production and expert use of language featured in Doomscroller may pleasantly surprise you. So if you want a reason to put away your phone for a while and take a break from the scroll, I recommend you check it out.