ARTIST: DOLL SKIN
TITLE: LOVE IS DEAD AND WE KILLED HER
LABEL: HOPELESS RECORDS
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
Arizona four-piece punk outfit Doll Skin grace us with their second full length album, the follow up to 2017’s ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ and the natural next phase in their career. Anyone who’s checked out that debut album or their EPs before that will be able to hear some of the development. For anyone who hasn’t – like any good sequel – it’s not necessary and won’t impede your enjoyment of this record, although ‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’ may well make you want to go back and check out their previous output if only to compare and contrast.
The most unusual thing about this band…is NOT that they’re all female (come on, it’s 2019, can we stop discussing the gender of band members as if it’s some kind of quirky trait), but rather that they were essentially a put together band for a competition. Having all met at a ‘school of rock’ they formed the band so they could compete in a local battle of the bands. Traditionally, so called ‘manufactured’ bands are more seen in the pop market and do occasionally struggle to stay together after said event has taken place, but these guys have gone from strength to strength and have obviously formed a tight bond which has gelled them together as bandmates through the years. Now going since 2013, Doll Skin recently signed with Hopeless Records and their label debut certainly makes them feel like a good fit for the band’s sound, a triumph of catchy pop-punk hooks, soaring choruses, upbeat guitars and enthusiastic backing vocals.
“a triumph of catchy pop-punk hooks, soaring choruses, upbeat guitars and enthusiastic backing vocals”
The choruses are generally top notch throughout the record. They’re all infectious and will stay stuck in your head long after the album has finished playing, which of course gives you the urge to spin it again. The songwriting is more developed and complex, the production crisper, and the musicianship tighter and at certain points it feels heavier than their previous record, certainly on opener ‘Don’t Cross My Path’, which is a really strong start, surprising the listeners with some heavier screamed sections showing off a new sound and some metal influences. Title track ‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’ and follow up ‘Mark My Words’ have more of a traditional emo vibe, the former with some exciting space-age swirling guitar effects, and of course an excellent chorus.
The album takes a bit of a dip with ‘No Fear’ which sounds very samey compared to other tracks on the record and doesn’t really stand out or make much of an impact with a slightly weak sounding mix on the guitars. Although things pick up again slightly with ‘Outta My Mind’, the impact of the first few songs does definitely dampen somewhat as the album goes along because a lot of the tracks have a very similar sound and style which tend to blend into one another.
“a solid album which leaves you with the sense there’s still more for these guys to give”
‘Nasty Man’ is much better, offering a more unusual vocal melody line in the choruses. It’s one that’s been used before and will sound familiar but is still ultimately satisfying to listen to. The subject matter is an important one too, about a young girl getting taken advantage of by, well, a nasty man. It’s handled with care and passion; the vocal delivery here has some serious oomph to it and makes the song stand out from the other mid-album tracks. From here on in the record picks up a bit too, rescuing itself. ‘Your Idols Are Dying’ is a strong track and single material, and ‘Homesick’ is a good one to end on, with a beautiful opening verse kicking in to a heavier section. The song shows a bit of variety here too, with a quieter breakdown and good peaks and troughs, hinting at experimentation. It still seems slightly strange that they showed off some rad scream singing in the opening track (which is still the best song on the record), then never really did it again for the rest of the album, which is a shame.
‘Love Is Dead And We Killed Her’ definitely has some strong stand-out songs and moments, but also quite a few tracks which feel like filler or just more of the same. There’s no doubt Doll Skin are developing and growing as a band, and this is a solid album which leaves you with the sense there’s still more for these guys to give. It would be good to see them push themselves in the different directions they’ve hinted at on this album but not quite followed through with.