Donovan Wolfington - Stop Breathing (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Donovan Wolfington

Stop Breathing (2013)

Community Records

One of the best things about Donovan Wolfington's Stop Breathing is how diverse it is. The NOLA based five-piece's latest effort on Community Records plays as if they are unafraid of getting too loud. When needed, the vocals are mixed well behind the guitar work, letting them fade into the background, adding texture and warmth, but not necessarily the melody. Where this is refreshing, from time to time any clever lyricism gets lost, leaving something to be desired.

Their music's very much akin to the pop of Sundials with the indie-tinged, more obscure wanderings of Pavement – meaning that many of the songs grow, retract and circle back. The twang in the guitar and effortlessly sung vocals give "Coca Cola" a country swing. The 6/8 time of "Love Is Natural" and all extra ohs make it fit in with any other '50s-inspired jam. The female voice echoes slightly behind many of the choruses, and are so delicate, D. Wolf end up reminding me of a rawer version of Straylight Run.

Thematically, Stop Breathing is all about the silver linings – repeating as if to convince their own doubts that "everything will be okay in the end" ("Ryan Rowley"). "It's a long way down when you're six feet underground" could easily be a RVIVR lyric ("Hell"). The more straightforward songs are delivered in a quick 4/4 with unrelenting guitars, aggressive catchiness and at times a borderline smarmy attitude that many have grown to love.

The worst thing about this record is feeling that you've already heard before and being unable to put your finger on it – frustration on the tip of your tongue. Take "American Spirits." It might as well be a Dikembe song – from the guitar flares in the intro to the short thoughts bringing them all together. That is not all bad though, considering that Dikembe are a good band to be compared to. Maybe "Spencer Green" sounds just like a noisier Lemuria song because D. Wolf have two more members. Once again, not a bad band to compared to by any stretch of the imagination.

After all is said and done, this record is worth checking out if you enjoy any of the bands mentioned. Stop Breathing is an enjoyable stew of familiar ingredients.