By turns snarky like The Donnas and poppy like a more instrumentally-savvy Avril Lavigne, The Dollyrots’ debut album on Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records is precisely what one would expect of a bubblegum band touted as punk with pop sensibilities. The formula is nothing new: take a drummer and guitar player who aren’t averse to cranking out short, 3-chord juggernauts in major keys, front it with a cute girl who doesn’t take herself too seriously and sings in a cutesy voice about teenage angst, and you have a hit. Top it off with the sarcastic wit of the opening track, â€œBecause I’m Awesomeâ€ (I always tell you how great you smell / It’s ’cause I’m naturally deodorized), and how can you go wrong?
Well, there are a couple of ways. Their â€œna-na-naâ€ choruses are reminiscent of the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack, high-energy and bursting with â€œscrew-youâ€ confidence. However, similar to their fictional counterparts, The Dollyrots are also disappointingly free of complexity or unexpected elements. There’s nothing sharp, jagged, or potentially offensive about Because I’m Awesome; it’s a huge mass of bright pink cotton candy for the ears- both in message and in orchestration. The songs are simple and happy; the production is clean and flawless. While they have a heavy name to live up to (â€œThe Dollyrotsâ€ refers to the idea of losing one’s innocence during the transition into adulthood) and occasional political jabs can be mined from their lyrics, the overall impression is that of a devil-may-care trio who just want to have a good time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for anyone expecting a little more substance in their music, The Dollyrots fall short. It’s not punk in the traditional sense; there’s nothing to mull over or connect with on an intellectual level. In fact, they’re so sickly-sweet and representative of a mainstream idea of youth are that they’d provide the perfect opening music for one of those riotous comedies about college starring Sean William Scott…and nothing associated with him is ever accused of being too intelligent.
In the end, though, The Dollyrots are a band who are difficult to dislike, sincere and hardworking as they are. Even if their sound doesn’t move you, it must be admitted that they’re masters of their sugary craft. They’re not trying too hard or attempting to be something they’re not, which is always nice to encounter in a world of bands being spun and marketed beyond their means. If you’re in the market for something sweet and light that makes you want to roll down the windows and sing along, The Dollyrots’ Because I’m Awesome is it.