The Dopamines - Dopamines (Cover Artwork)

The Dopamines

Dopamines (2008)

It's Alive!

Despite the fact that I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of ska-punk, I end up hearing quite a lot of pop-punk. While I enjoy a good deal of it, most of it doesn't stick with me. The re-hashed Beach Boys' melodies simply roll off my back like water off a duck. The Dopamines, along with a handful of other bands (uh, the Copyrights) come to mind as one of the better pop-punk bands around today.

After a stellar 7-song demo, it was obvious that the Cincinnati trio needed to crank out a full-length. While five of the songs from the aforementioned demo resurface on the album, it is no problem considering that they were the five best songs on the demo and deserved to to heard again. One of these songs, the opening track, "The Satisfaction of Physical Retraction from a Chemical Reaction Attraction," is such a perfect opening track, not only for the album, but for the Dopamines as they make their first official foray into the big leagues of pop-punk. The lyrics of the song are straight out of the pages of the National Geographic issue about the chemical implications of the emotion we call love. The song is smart, fast and fun. It also exposes the Dopamines as dorks.

What helps set the Dopamines apart from the rest of the pop-punk crowd is their delightful knack for writing epic choruses. The killer track "Molly" exemplifies this quality with a killer, memorable chorus of "What do I say? / Say it ain't so" -- simple yet solid. Also returning from the demo is the speedy number "Fun Tags," which sings the praises of drunken fun and closes with the line "I'd rather get a D.U.I. than give up this life."

The album stays a steady course throughout the often treacherous "middle of the album" which most bands simply bog down with filler. The Dopamines, on the other hand, hide some solid gems in the middle including the rocking "Beer Telescope" and the cheeky "Cupidity."

The second half of the record has a much darker feel than the first half. Both "Confession of Obsession with Regression and Depression" and "Mark Ruffalo Is Sooo Dreamy and I'm a Nightmare" are pretty bittersweet. They even have an early Alkaline Trio feel to them.

The album itself ends on a high note with the killer acoustic track "Navigation Point." The song is a sentimental farewell song that should quickly become a fan favorite. While this may be the Dopamines' first outing, it is a completely solid record that shows nothing but promise from these hard-working drunkards. If you're a rat and you'll listen to anything that comes within a mile of the Ramones, then you'll love this record. On the other hand, fans of music in general should appreciate this album as a solid installment in the punk rock saga.