Hi. I’m Dirty on Purpose and I want to be your best friend.
That’s how New York-based Dirty on Purpose presents itself on its debut EP, Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow. No beating around the bush, no attitude, no bullshit. Just this shockingly friendly sound that you thought only existed in the depths of the Midwest. Within seconds of hearing the first notes of opener “All New Friends,” you’ll feel completely and utterly acquainted with the band, as if you’ve been friends for life. You’re not passively sitting around allowing notes to enter your head; you’re having a conversation with Sally Lou, your next door neighbor.
How’d I become such good friends with Dirty on Purpose? I’ve never seen them live, haven’t met them on the street, wasn’t bribed by the band members’s parents to say I liked them. The only thing left is the music, and a closer look reveals they’ve got what it takes to be everyone’s best friend. The album, full of indie-pop charm, progresses toward a thumping and throbbing goal, but it never rushes ahead of itself or suffocates you in its sound. “All New Friends” picks up speed and eventually culminates, but not before you get swept up in its dreamy mess of carefully plotted riffs and child-like vocals.
The upbeat tunes mask the longing lyrics, making for a bittersweet, albeit uplifting, album. “Cheat Death” paces around your ears and your heart as it stumbles through the remains of a broken relationship. Despite its somber tone, the harmony of voices adds an ethereal edge, inserting a glimmer of hope into an anthem that could sound like a death march.
It’s surprising this band has been bumming around the mess of a city that is New York. Everything about DoP is pastoral; the artwork resembles an embroidered pillow, the songs were crafted by the entire team, and their sound is quaintly satisfying (even the harder-edged “Spider Eyes” stays grounded in small-time charm).
The downside to playing the let’s-make-everyone-happy card is it leaves the album devoid of anything that’s overwhelming or mind-blowing. This isn’t a paint-by-numbers album, but the band does aim to please and because of that will have a harder time breaking new ground. And tack this formula onto a forty-plus-minute album and not just a twenty-minute EP, and the band’s overly-pleasant attitude could become uber-obnoxious.
Sure, not everything has to be groundbreaking; sometimes you just need that easily accessible album to remind you that life is better than you think. And like any good friend, that’s exactly what Dirty on Purpose does on Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow.
– May 2004