Dirty Shrines

Digital Ego

Written by: PP on 18/11/2021 18:14:33

There's a sense of familiarity when you go through your first listen of Dirty Shrines' debut album "Digital Ego". The vocals - widely brawled out in a clean-cut manner - are courtesy of Elway's Tim Browne, who has brought his bandmate Brian Van Proyen along to join Drew Johnson (Chumped) and Max Barcelow (Gregory Alan Isakov). They hit the same laid-back, yet subtly passionate tone as on Elway records, even if stylistically Dirty Shrines otherwise finds itself quite a bit further away from the punk realms of either them or Chumped.

Instead, "Digital Ego" explores melodic alternative rock while throwing in a mixture of influences from different styles. Among them, "Every Mile" has similarities to the Americana rock of The Hold Steady, whereas elsewhere they utilize subtle punk undertones to create that melodic ring to the guitars that so often characterizes bands in that genre - see "Iron Blinders" as an example.

The tempo varies between slow and mid-speed, with most songs content to stroll along at a leisurely pace for music that's best described as easy-listening. And therein lies the key issue with "Digital Ego": it sounds rather...bland. The few highlights struggle amidst anonymous songwriting that results in decent enough songs but rarely ones that capture your attention beyond the standard "yeah, that was ok" response.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why because Tim Browne's vocals are solid as are the instrumentals, but together the expression just doesn't leave behind any sort of long-term memorable impression save for a couple of good tracks like "Happy Hour" or "Loud Cliches", where the hooks finally land. Or on "Aren't You Ashamed", a much louder and scratchier track that highlights what Dirty Shrines should aim for. Nevertheless, it's just not enough to warrant a higher than average score.


Download: Loud Cliches, Iron Blinders, Happy Hour, Aren't You Ashamed
For the fans of: Elway, The Hold Steady
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 17.09.2021
Black Numbers

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