By Chris Molnar | 26 April 2011
Dom is able to do enough—song-defining bridges, perfect guitar leads, eerily high vocals—that any disinterest expressed in furthering the cause of Dom comes across as genuine. Dom’s not overcompensating, just unsure of his next move. The half-finished nature of his new songs fits into his basic appeal, that of a talented kid lost enough in his own world to either succeed or fail in a big way. Think Wavves.
At the Bowery Ballroom show (appropriately scheduled for 4/20), excursions into the “Pete & Pete” theme or speed metal were endearingly ramshackle, but it was a particular cover song that offered an unexpected glimpse of this band’s future. It was a quick, perfect “Little Red Corvette” that revealed Dom’s increasingly psych-rock sound, and it’s this sound, they seemed to be announcing, chosen as the primo vessel for receiving the Spirit of Prince. Dom’s band proficiently, easily, and absolutely took to the material, and meanwhile Dom’s confident naiveté made the song brand new, thirty intervening years disappearing instantly.
I’m convinced that the song—and the Spirit channeled behind it—represents Dom’s solution to avoiding the inevitably disappointed expectations for his forthcoming full-length, waiting under the shadow of last year’s promising EP. In other words: do a Prince covers album, then do a Prince covers tour. If the Flaming Lips are allowed to take a candy-colored dump on Dark Side of the Moon (1973), surely Dom should be given the chance to keep doing Prince better than even Prince is able to do anymore.
Seriously, imagine Dom’s Muppet falsetto buttering up “Raspberry Beret,” Parade (1986), even Graffiti Bridge (1990). The way he lends lines of his own like “It’s so sexy / To be living in America” such a fine balance of snark and earnestness (the cynical honesty of youth) is exactly the kind of treatment that Prince’s bottomless catalog of standards could use. There’s too much reverence (or lack thereof) in how Prince is approached these days, so maybe a guy like Dom and a band like Dom could temper all that worship with some exuberant blaspheming.
That’s not to say that he shouldn’t ultimately return to writing his own songs. The excitement that “Bochicha” and “Rude as Jude” engendered in the stoned, restless crowd was enough to remind one of the durability of what Dom can come up with when free to concentrate his energy on writing. New songs like “Happy Birthday Party-Party” just seemed to suffer from the distractions of touring and pre-emptive hype, all bland, first-draft guitar and drum parts and none of the interesting samples around which Sun Bronzed Greek Gods (2010) organized its sound. Other new songs felt like extended experiments, Dom’s weird voice simply testing out new areas of expertise. It became obvious the live arena has helped reinforce the reverb-heavy atmosphere that the EP suggested; the band’s tight rapport may tip into heavy shoegaze territory, but they sound the better for it.
And really, Dom’s unexpected Prince excursion was too good to dismiss as a fluke or one-off, bearing no relation to Kevin Barnes’ rip-off idol worship. I’d go so far as to suggest a cosmic connection between these mononymed musicians, and in lieu of an ability to write his way into the territory of his predecessor, Dom must take advantage of his ability to be possessed by Prince’s spirit. That spirit long ago left the body it was birthed in, and it is now left to Dom to take hold of it before it disappears forever. After all, every-1 needs a muse.