Dasha - Damned If We Do (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Damned If We Do (2009)


Certain times of year beg for a certain kind of soundtrack.

Gone are the dreary, acoustic doldrums of winter and in are the up-tempo musings of indie pop. Whether or not that's a change for the better depends on your disposition, but the fact is, those of you who live for those sun-drenched evenings driving with the windows down will quickly find room in your car's CD changer for Dasha's Damned If We Do.

Dasha's debut effort is a perfect blend of cascading, melodic chord progressions and the sugar-sweet vocals of singer Colleen Vasey. The 10-song effort airs on the side of brevity, but even the shortest song -- "Leather Sweater" clocks in at a slim 1:19 -- has plenty of time to play through a range of sounds.

"Little Ghosts" kicks things off with a bouncy bass groove and Vasey's playful vocals delivering more sinister lyrics than her gorgeous tone would have you believe. When she sings "Walking a straight line never appealed to me anyway, checking with the unknown bottle / Up and explode, he tells me over and over / I'm throwing my eyes up for the last time" atop the gentle rhythms of Tommy Vollmer's drumming, the juxtaposition sounds picture-perfect.

Her voice also takes hold on the jangly "The Future Mr. Olivia Benson," and again the lyrics paint a much darker picture than do the guitar's bright timbre or the drum's smooth rolls. Vasey doesn't mince words in saying "Fuck you for making me feel like my body was the only important thing," nor does she miss a beat in changing her voice from a reserved delicacy to a stronger presence as the song goes on. It's that vocal variance that allows her to sound so perfect no matter a song's rhythm and no matter its length. From the whispers of "The Bonj" to the quick delivery of "The Robot Leaks, Fix Her! Fix her!" it all works.

Of course, the best vocals in the world would be for naught if the backing music is less than par. For Dasha, that couldn't be less of a concern. Channeling the quick rhythm changes of Minus the Bear and the instrumental jaunts of Saxon Shore, the five-piece breezes through selections like "The Progression of Decomposition" with style and savvy. The group is equally adept in the whimsical "Progression" as the tactful "Are We in the Dark." There's just such an enjoyable calculation to Dasha's approach: every guitar tone, every subtle drum kick and every vocal nuance melds to create the perfect summer sound.

My advice is simple: fill up your tank, grab yourself a lemonade, roll your windows down and drive to anywhere. I promise, Dasha will take you home.