Exploring the “Enter the DARENOTS” EP
Canadian hip hop/reggae/industrial band DARENOTS are back with a vengeance in their latest EP, Enter the DARENOTS, available everywhere off LAW Records as of March 2nd. Following their inaugural full-length album The Now is Truth in 2016 and a three-song EP Strange Love last year, the DARENOTS boys are currently on the fast-track to becoming the biggest and baddest band in North America. Even if their ingenious mash-up sound isn't for you, you can't knock on their efficiency as they average one release a year since their inception. Still a cynic? Just wait 'til you witness their electrically kinetic live show incorporating acrobatics into the mix as they jump on each other's shoulders, swing mics around like lassos and take turns banging on drums separate from the actual drum kit. The band is hard to hate – let's leave it at that.
Enter the DARENOTS is darker, Delphian and slightly deranged.
That all being said, Enter the DARENOTS is different. The Now is Truth album has a tongue-in-cheek, let's-get-the-party-started vibe as the boys introduced their newness to the world. Their sophomore Strange Love release, although short and sweet, delivered the first instance that the band's mindset might be morphing: “Murda Whistle” proffered a 'femme fatale' warning label, while “Summertime Bottle” continued the 'sun's up, drink in my cup, YOLO' message from the first LP. But now, it's time to dive deep into DARENOTS territory... "I hope you can swim". Let's turn the key to see what's been secretly hiding behind DARENOTS door number one this entire time, eh?
Enter the DARENOTS is darker, Delphian and slightly deranged. Track one conspicuously bridges the gap between the EPs by sharing the same name of the last one, “Strange Love”. Lest we forget, the DARENOTS boys don't like being taken for a ride. In a relationship spinning around in circles, getting stabbed in the back so many times starts to feel less like a knife and more “like a sliver”, an unwanted fragment that stubbornly stays lodged beneath your skin no matter how you try to expel it. With a crescendo in the chorus, synthesizers come close to drowning out the muted “strange love” chants of the band members, an explosion of sound that insinuates the overwhelming vortex that people find themselves in when confused in love. This vortex exemplifies the band itself: let us entertain you, for we are enigmatic, disorienting, all-encompassing. Track two, “Down”, sustains the DARENOTS' newfound dejected stance on love and relationships by stating certain women bring “the clouds” and are only around to rain on your parade... “you know how the story goes”. All those downer DARE-NAUGHTIES seem to have left the band jaded, reminding the boys they need to “learn [their] limit”. But, instead of reveling in their sorrows, the band says go ahead and hit me with your best shot to take the throne – you'll “never get the crown”, hater. Harsh, yes, but your attitude is neither welcome nor warranted, so kick rocks. Despite defensive lyrics, guest vocals from Gianni Lumanati in the bridge add a touch of vulnerability to the venom: “you were the snake and the charmer” and although I lost, “I played the game with all bets on ya”. These feelings of resentment are self-induced.
All those downer DARE-NAUGHTIES seem to have left the band jaded...
Let's take a minute to get one thing straight – DARENOTS don't despise dating. They have plenty of songs that promote it. However, the band does seem to dismiss our generation's version of dating. Call them old-fashioned (irony, considering their novel sound), but the DARENOTS boys have had enough of the one-night-standing, self(ie)-obsessed society that we immerse ourselves in today. Track three “Swipe Right” is the epitome of the assinine dating dance that Generations Y and Z insist on doing: “swipe right”, “swipe left”, “hook up”, NEXT. How are we ever going to feel true contentment if we stand by the firm belief that the grass could (and probably is) greener with another swipe of the thumb? Tinder, Bumble, Grinder, whatever you're into, these apps have conditioned the general public that dating options are endless. As a result, we take people for granted. We use, we dispose. We never hang around long enough to actually get to know someone, because that would mean we risk being exposed ourselves. We want the illusion of a relationship... someone to post pictures with on Instagram, but never linger around enough to hurt us. We never stop “runnin' around”, we always “feel safe, but never sound”. Will we ever “feel sound”? Hard to say, since we wouldn't know a solid connection if it hit us square in the face anymore... we're too busy hiding behind our profiles and rose-colored Bitmoji Post Malone-playing Snapchat filters.
Next up is a reggae-infused remake of the Gorillaz's “Feel Good, Inc.”, with female vocals on the "feel good"'s and a longer dubby outro with DARENOTS frontman Rev nailing the original version's maniacal laughter. In case you ever wanted a downtempo, darker version of Gorillaz, DARENOTS have your back. “Shiny Bags” stands as a turning point on the EP concerning tonality – it's brighter, bubblier and brings back Fatboy Slim's “Praise You” from the 90's. With guest scratching by DJ Ry Toast of Tyrone's Jacket, this track's lighter timbre and hip hop elements allows the listener a little break from the seriousness to walk down memory lane. However, it does happen to be another track about female succubi, ones “hopping on man-wagons”and collecting men like handbags. The contrast between the track's poppy vocal delivery and its dismissive subject matter is an example of the band returning to their traditional tongue-in-cheek humor. Just don't treat the boys “like accessories” and you won't be on their shit list.
...DARENOTS declare “don't let anyone control ya”, which is pretty much the mantra of the EP as a whole.
Last, but not least, is “Trouble” to add to the fat stack of DARENOTS drinking songs. Yet, this one differs from the rest as its got a certain je ne sais quoi about it... it's almost as if the DARENOTS boys are starting to doubt whether other people can keep up with them? Welcome to the “no stress, decompress, truly madness” zone; one that has taken the DARENOTS no time at all to develop. The guitar chords come into the track like a siren, immediately before a vocal “whoop, whoop” puts a brush to canvas on what painting the town red entails. And, speaking of, red is a repeating symbol of Enter the DARENOTS: “seeing red” with women, red album art, being red with rage, red sirens wailing, red eyes “watch the way I navigate, ha ha ha HA”. Red is passion. Red is exciting. Red means anything but 'stop' for this band. The last track also features vocals from Fortunate Youth frontman Dan Kelly on the bridge, renowned for his positive, upbeat lyrics, yet also notoriously known to be the life of the party. Although the mischievous glove fits, the track itself is more somber than any Fortunate Youth song, so listeners get a rare glimpse into the darker side of Dan Kelly's “living for today” ethos. All in all, DARENOTS declare “don't let anyone control ya”, which is pretty much the mantra of the EP as a whole.
Enter the DARENOTS is an outstanding addition to an ever-evolving band, now available on all digital outlets. In celebration of their release, the DARENOTS boys have hit the American highways in support of Walk Off the Earth in their national Walk Off the Earth Tour. Shows are selling out fast, so make sure to secure your tickets for when the band hits a town near you. For more information on everything DARENOTS, visit www.darenots.com.
Purchase or stream Enter the DARENOTS EP:
- Strange Love
- Down (feat. Gianni Lumanati)
- Swipe Right
- Feel Good Inc.
- Shiny Bags (feat. DJ Ry Toast)
- Trouble (feat. Fortunate Youth)
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Reggae.