Donning Nascar pit crew jackets and cowboy hats, one would never guess that a band with the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. makes such irresistible pop music. One would also never guess that ‘Nascar’ and ‘irresistible pop’ would be in the same sentence.
In fact, there is nothing remotely Nascar about them, musically speaking that is.
Call it being fashionably ironic, but the music speaks for itself and is further proof that Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson will never stop being relevant.
As the debut for the mostly electronic duo, Horse Power is an EP of love songs. Songs about falling in love and searching for love all nicely wrapped up in an instantly relatable package. It’s done using the simplest of pop, with influences and methods that are instantly recognized. This doesn’t cheapen the music, but provides flattery to those the band , in essence, is paying tribute.
The melodies are taken right from the McCartney songbook, drawing heavily from Wilson when it comes to the vocals. While it’s an already well used match up, and has been since either musicians entered the game, it’s one that is fluid in it’s possible uses. Everyone of these tracks carries a charm unique to this duo.
A cover of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds heartbreaker “God Only Knows” is icing on the cake.
Strong doesn’t even begin to describe Horse Power, as the tracks are flat out addicting. The dreamy “Nothing But Our Love” starts out the set of just four tracks slow, with a well-plucked intro, leading into bright tuned up video game synths amidst the drum machine.
As suggested by its title, “Vocal Chords” brings in the harmonies and high notes for the catchiest track of the bunch. It shows, yet again, timelessness of the classic pop formula, as Jr. Jr. rides the chorus for all it’s worth.
The real treat, however, comes with “Simple Girl.” The whistles and playful guitar bring it in as it swims in it’s own vocal play. It strikes a McCartney calling folk-pop sound that gets at the heart of why this album works so well; a back to basics approach to song writing that’s simple, colorful and rewarding.
Nothing about Horse Power is trying to re-invent the wheel, as it shouldn’t. Good pop music is good pop music, it’s that simple, and that’s all this band is trying to make.
Horse Power is a hell of a way for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. to introduce itself. By making catchy music look easy, they are cashing in on the trend of mellifluous indie pop and, for this moment, it feels so right.