If I had to pigeonhole Dead Identities' sound (I suppose I don’t have to, but I’m an asshole like that) I’d say they were a pop-punk band in a `90s Epitfat sort of vein. All the songs on Music for the Waiting Room are relatively brief with a good sense of melody that tend to build up into anthemic choruses full of "whoa-oh"s with some slight nods to third wave ska progressions peppered here and there reminiscent of that era. Considering the saturation of this type of music in its heyday, it can be hard for bands to still work within those conventions and produce something original and compelling. Luckily for Dead ID, while they do stick to standards of the genre to an extent, they have good knowledge of classic pop songwriting (as displayed in their Beatles cover, “It’s Only Love”) and enough minor stylistic deviations to create a solid debut album.
A frenzied drum and bass intro leads the way in “Not My Country,” and is a great album opener because it sets the tone of the balance between social and political unrest and the struggles of day-to-day living and relationships explored by the band. The shouted verses are given a distortion effect that helps to emphasize the melodic qualities of the hook and the backup vocals of "hey! hey!" during a small spoken word part help add enough variety to a song that otherwise might have been almost nothing but the chorus itself. However, the next couple of songs prove to be somewhat symptomatic of a major problem with the album. While the songs themselves are distinguishable from each other, after the record stops spinning it becomes hard to recall even some the shout-along choruses. This leads to the realization that at 15 tracks the album gets a little long in the tooth and a number of a filler tracks could have been cut out altogether. For a band’s first release it is understandable that they would want to get all their ideas recorded, but hopefully as they progress they will learn to cut a bit of the fat (no pun intended…or was it?).
What makes the album so promising though is when the band does step out of the box a little (although usually well within their comfort zone) it almost always creates a highlight on the album. “Wait Another Day” initially comes off as a pretty generic ska-punk tune with its standard upstroke rhythm; it eventually reveals some entertaining leads and a studied gradual progression into the pop chorus that avoids any jarring qualities. “Wednesday Night” couples a somewhat darker sound for the album with metallic parts that really show some versatility on the guitarists’ part with almost falsetto vocal parts for some of the unabashedly poppy moments on the album. The liner notes state that lead vocalist/guitarist Keef plays washboard on “Keep It Up Girl,” which was intriguing because the only other use of washboard playing in a punk rock context I know of is Throw Rag, who no longer have their player. Sadly, unlike Jacko from Throw Rag, the washboard playing isn’t nearly as present in the mix, possibly because theirs may not have had its own pickups like his. Either way, “Keep It Up Girl” has a unique sound amidst the album that borrows from `50s rock 'n' roll and `70s power-pop.
Although Music for the Waiting Room has a tune called “Born in the UK,” Dead ID has a sound that seems to be bourn out of the glory days of the Warped Tour. While the album itself could have been far more concise, there is a lot to enjoy here, especially fitting for those summer months if you are someone who has found themselves alienated from today’s Warped Summer Extravaganza (Major Excellent). All in all, a very solid debut that leaves the listener hoping for something more but at the same time gives a glimpse of that something.