Downtown Struts - Hope You're Dope [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Downtown Struts

Hope You're Dope [EP] (2014)

Pirates Press Records

Chicago’s Downtown Struts' Hope You’re Dope is exactly what it should be--five songs that find the Struts further creating an all new wheelhouse for themselves, comfortable delving even further from their punk roots, exploring more melancholy territory in style and tone. While the Menzinger’s influence still lurks in the background, the Downtown Struts have become their very own beast, a band with the confidence and skill to sound exactly how they want, and stand out because of it.

Dan Cooper’s vocals have never felt more assured, even as lyrically he explores themes of depression and self-doubt, particularly on stand-out track “Bipolar”, an achingly personal entry that serves as the EP’s thematic centerpiece. “Italian Homes” will also lodge itself into your brain and stay there for weeks. Throughout the five tracks, clean-sounding guitars float high above the thumping bass and drums, creating an exciting yet mellow vibe that often feels more indie-rock than punk. In fact, all five songs on this EP are excellent and complement each other so smoothly and enjoyably that upon completion of Hope You’re Dope, I foresee many a listener dropping the needle back to opener “American Animals” and taking the brief but rewarding ride once more.

It’s been a slow, steady climb for the Struts, but in the end their songs continue to be too good to halt their ascent.