The Dangerous Summer - If You Could Only Keep Me Alive (Cover Artwork)

The Dangerous Summer

If You Could Only Keep Me Alive (2007)


The Dangerous Summer were a band I wrote off from the start. The name, the artwork -- it just screamed at me to stay away and even the fact that it carried the Hopeless Records logo on the back was kind of disheartening. Hopeless used to be a label that I loved but has recently been releasing increasingly annoying and generic emo releases (Royden, All Time Low, Nural). I listened to it once and it failed to really change that perception, so I threw the record to the back of the pile. A few weeks later I pulled it out and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

You see, I obviously wasn't listening properly the first time I played If You Could Only Keep Me Alive, because the seven-song EP is vastly different in comparison to the band's labelmates. Instead of the whiny, super slick, emo output, the Dangerous Summer go for a slightly rougher, much more energetic and more enjoyable pop-punk sound. While still being rather slick, it never becomes sickeningly so and does feature a bit of a kick to it. The mix is great and it is actually a rather refreshing listen despite it not being overly original.

AJ Perdomo's vocal delivery comes off strained and worn as if he's coming into his vocal reach. It gives off an image of a rougher Kenny Vasoli. In fact, the whole album sees a heavy influence from the Starting Line's Based on a True Story era -- a sort of radio-friendly pop-punk that features a rock-friendly punch to it. The overlapping guitars, the clash of the cymbals and the occasional gang sing-along, If You Could Only Keep Me Alive is a well polished pop-punk record from front to back. There's the needed quieter portions ("Disconnect" being a good example of that); that is, the part where everything takes a step back to let the vocals take over and lead the way, i.e. "Wake Up," and the mid-tempo drumming and sing-along breakdowns (along with Taking Back Sunday dueling vocal styles) ("Here We Are After Dark"). The seven songs never really stray from the beaten path, musically or lyrically, as the lyrical content tends to cover the conventional subjects such as love and touring; all the songs follow a similar structure throughout, as well. Luckily for the Dangerous Summer, that structure is rather enjoyable and it makes it so that the thirty-minute EP can be played numerous times without it becoming overbearing or repetitive.

If You Could Only Keep Me Alive is just a simple little pop-punk EP that is enjoyable. It's not the most catchy release ever, and thus may be somewhat forgettable after time, but while you listen to it there's no real complaints. The biggest problem is the fact that their bio promotes them as attempting to create a sound that will appeal to a larger audience as if they're already falling into the trap of writing for the music biz rather than writing for themselves. I guess the Starting Line did that with Direction, so maybe the Dangerous Summer are just following Vasoli's idea once again.