Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Album Review: This Will Haunt Me by Dollar Signs

I've been aware of Charlotte, North Carolina's Dollar Signs since 2015 after the release of their album Yikes. Then their EP Ruff found a way into my top ten EPs of 2017. Now they've released a brand new album titled This Will Haunt Me through the always outstanding A-F Records. As soon as This Will Haunt Me was released I was very excited to hear it and give it a review. Here's what I thought.

The song Cry Hard kicks off This Will Haunt Me. What really attracted me to Dollar Signs when I first heard them was the rowdy, rough round the edges, rambunctious style of their music. This style comes to the forefront immediately on Cry Hard. Interestingly the song starts off with some accapella gang vocals of "I used to bury my feelings deep down inside of me", which is actually the title of another track on the album, before the song begins properly. Lyrically it's quite sad, as the band sing a song about all the things that make them cry. The way that the song is played is quite energetic and light-hearted however so I imagine that it's quite a cathartic experience to see Dollar Signs play Cry Hard live. Up next is Till Death. Till Death is about having to attend weddings and not really enjoying them and just wanting to leave, drink and smoke. I really enjoyed the lyric "always the drunk, never the groom." This is a fun and fast paced track that's overflowing with an infectious energy. Shallow Pop Songs was a stand out on my first listen of This Will Haunt Me. The opening line "I'm the Usain Bolt of running from my problems" is perhaps one of my favourite lyrics of the year and immediately had me wanting to see where the song goes from here. Shallow Pop Songs is about wanting to escape to an easier time in your life when you were less cynical and had fewer problems. This is a great slab of sing-along pop punk.

The album's title track This Will Haunt Me is up next. Starting out with some lovely piano accompanied by great gang vocals before some really distorted guitars come in and give the song a bigger feeling. I feel like this is almost Dollar Signs' version of a ballad and it encapsulates their no rules approach to songwriting that they seem to have. The fifth song is named Ugghhh. It's a fifty second song about a lonely man whose family left him and who watches porn whilst at his desk in the office. The message of the song is don't turn into this man. It's a bit of a silly song but its brilliance is in its silliness. The lyrics are fantastic. This song leads directly into another song about life in the office. Titled Sadderday, it's about having to work all the time and still having no money. I'm sure this is a song that most people listening to will relate to and will again act as a form of catharsis when you're gleefully singing along with the song. I love how Dollar Signs seem to add more and more an element of mayhem to the song as it goes on, perhaps symbolising the growing frustrations of always having to work on Saturdays. As someone who has been contracted to Saturday work for fifteen years, I can see this song becoming my Saturday morning anthem. The opening lines of The Devil Wears Flannel are heartbreaking. "I just realised I'll never do anything great, Everything I want to say has been said in better ways" are some of the saddest opening lines I've ever heard. The song is actually a dig on shallow pop songs and how musicians sell out and write repetitive rubbish rather than anything profound. On The Devil Wears Flannel, Dollar Signs are in full on storytelling mode, complete with somebody playing the role of the devil in the tale. This is a great song.

The tempo is picked up on the eighth song, Waste My Life Away. For me this is where Dollar Signs are at their best, throwing everything they have into their song and not holding back in the slightest. Dollar Signs have quite a self-depreciating nature and it's more apparent here than ever before. The song is someone about acting like an idiot and making it hard for people to like them and ultimately wondering why anyone would love them. Tears / Beers / Fears is another hugely relatable track. It's about growing up in the punk rock scene and wondering what you're doing with your life. One example which really struck a chord with me is how all your friends are getting married and having kids and you're spending all your time at small punk shows. I've often thought to myself "What on earth am I doing with my life?". It's a sobering thought really but you just have to live the life that's best for you. The penultimate song is the aforementioned I Used To Bury Me Feelings Deep Down Inside Of Me. The minute and a half song spends the first half of its duration saying those title words before spending the rest of track shouting "now I ask for help, help, help" repeating "help" over and over again. It's a simple and oh so positive song that put a huge smile on my face. This leads seamlessly into the final song The Real Folk Blues. They've definitely saved the best song until last. It's about life in Dollar Signs, starting out learning blink-182 tabs and screaming Mischief Brew songs alone in a bedroom before moving on to playing shows with your friends and having the greatest time. The song's, and perhaps the whole album's, highlight comes in The Real Folk Blues' big ending with an incredible display of rowdy gang vocal harmonies. There's a real feeling of joy in this ending that's so endearing and makes you love Dollar Signs even more!

This Will Haunt Me is an absolute triumph. You don't hear many pop punk albums as good as this anymore. It's high energy and rambunctious nature really draws you in but it's the lyrics that really stand out. I'm not sure if it was one member of the band or a collective effort but I don't think I've related to so many lyrics on one album for a long time. They in equal part break my heart whilst also making me feel better.

Stream and download This Will Haunt Me here:

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This review was written by Colin Clark.

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