by Hugo Reyes (@hvreyes5)
The inherent trouble with pop punk is this general feeling of emptiness. Songs become unnecessary statements. How many times can we hear the same sentiment about relationships spouted over lightly distorted power chords? Our connections with bands therefore become short-term relationships. All you have to hold onto is the hooks. Once you become familiar with the material, you move on to the next fling. The marriage of catchy vocals with strong lyrical content is essential. Bands are not beloved because they had one good chorus. We need to create bonds that go beyond the pop structure. If successful, the songs eventually become lifelines, a place to turn to when we don’t know where else to go.
DUMP HIM, wth their debut LP Dykes to Watch Out For toes the line between pop music for pop’s sake and lyricism that feels more like a stump speech than a song. The listener can choose to pay attention to whatever they choose. If you care about melody above all else, there’s plenty to take in. There is enough variation from track to track in its construction and execution so as to not bore the listener. A song like “Dykes to Watch Out For” follows the traditional verse-chorus structure to perfection. While the album opener, “Puritan” moves quickly, making a complete statement in 74 seconds, goading you to play it again.
But, to ignore DUMP HIM’s lyrics would be a disservice. From the start, the band was a solo project for Jac Walsh in 2015. Playing music was meant as a way to work through trauma. Now, solidified as a full band four years later, we are presented with the multi-faceted experience of non-men.
It can be alluring and easy to castigate the entire record to just trauma or any singular experience. “This is a record about trauma. This is a record about depression with a happy melody.” DUMP HIM doesn’t allow or give a one sentence pitch that is readily available for a press junket. It’s up to the listener to tease out whatever meaning they so choose.
Dykes To Watch Out For is as the label Get Better Records states on their Bandcamp page, music “for the queers, by the queers.” It’s a reclamation of the title of pop punk, which was in DUMP HIM’s own words, ruined by “straight boys on major labels.”