Some music is meant strictly for the summer season. With breezy, reggae beats, a jam band mentality, and a bongo player, Maryland's young the Low Life have created a rather exceptional summer album with Daisy Cutter. Note that exceptional refers to how well it goes with the season of summer, not the quality of the music itself, as the band's second full-length suffers from some glaring flaws, some almost unforgivable.
In a way, the Low Life are a lot like a poppier, more college rock version of the legendary Sublime; the music is all about good beats and vibes (if you were thinking "drug music," you wouldn't be too far off), catchy melodies, and, most importantly, fun. Their debut, Thixotropic, was chock full of bouncy rhythms and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and was ultimately much more accessible than this new sophomore release. The transition between albums is rather dramatic, heading in an almost completely different direction. Daisy Cutter relies more on relaxing, droning harmonies and smooth, minimalist dub, resulting in a much less accessible and more frustrating effort. Case in point: The album is just boring at times, something their debut release never had to worry about. Songs like "Dub" and the random jam instrumental "Turtle" (who throws a jam track in at track three?) disrupt the flow of Daisy Cutter, and are completely skippable.
The reason for the change in pace of the music can be attributed to the fact that a lot of the material on here is from the Low Life's back catalog, songs they had worked on but not completed when they were still in high school, and ideas they had tinkered around with before they really found their musical niche, displayed on Thixotropic. These older tunes have been updated a bit and given new parts, vocals, and lyrics, but their age certainly shows. It's a disappointment, for I know if the band had written completely new songs for this album, the results would have been completely different. Still, it's a good idea with a rather aggravating outcome.
However, Daisy Cutter does have its stellar moments as well, where the band focuses more on melodies and being extremely infectious. "Castaway" wouldn't be out of place on most college radio stations, with its excellent chorus and three-part "la la la" harmonies closing the song out. "Green Shirt" boasts a droning, almost lazy vocal delivery (the vocals, might I add, are top notch), but it's pulled off with flying colors, and combined with the anthemic outro of "age, never gonna waste it -- time, never gonna chase it," makes it my personal favorite song on the album. The middle of the album is the most fun, with "Doll House" and "Boogie Man" resembling the Low Life of old, and "Swan Dive" is by far the most aggressive the band has ever sounded, as it screams into a full-on punk rock song a quarter of the way through.
Still, with all of these pluses, Daisy Cutter just doesn't flow, and the feeling of let-down is prevalent throughout the duration of the album. I would throw a rating of about 6.5 at it, but for the sake of rounding, it gets pushed down to a six, simply because the album has (or will have) no replayability in the seasons of Fall and Winter -- it's strictly a good weather album. Not a horrible album by a longshot, but it is somewhat of a misstep. Here's to hoping the Low Life's next album continues in the right direction.
- "Green Shirt"
- "Swan Dive"
- "Boogie Man"