July 28, 2015
It’s hard to be sincere and silly at the same time, but clever, 90s-inspired punk outfit, Del Rio has done just that with their first album, Escape from Del Rio. The recent ‘90s resurgence isn’t just an exciting blast from the past for high-waisted fashionistas and Lisa Frank fiends. Musically, the revival has been equally and expertly honored. From iconic pop to grunge, the best and most missed elements of the millennials’ golden age have resurfaced and Del Rio is an energetic homage to this.
Escape from Del Rio is saturated with influences ranging from MxPx, The Pixies and Weezer. Wailing guitars mock subtlety like a flashy ’57 Corvette. The songs are rich, textured and built off of solid, American craftsmanship creating a familiar boxing match that pits the intangible angst of youth against a uniquely stylized reality.
Introductory track, ‘GTS’ is a speeding, immediate release of churning riffs hugging the drums like a fast car on a dangerous mountain road. Somewhere between Frank Black and Daniel Johnston is vocalist/lyricist Pete Hurdle. Hurdle enriches songs with tributes to Marvel Comic book heroes by illustrating his own storyboards of boyish fascination in the Trompe La Monde ‘Gwen Stacy’ where he empathizes with Spiderman’s loss of his one true love. The song grounds the listener back to a childhood of Saturday morning cartoons and endless adventures with the incorporation of past-tense heroes and screeching Danelectro bat-signals call for their classic return.
‘Abbix’ is a frantic, gritty blend of crashing drums against quiet/loud vocals in true Pixies form. Despite its name, an earnest love song comes packaged in ‘Leave Me On My Own’, which dances out its own posture and twirls during the catchiest chorus yet. The drums step up, cannonballing throughout the song which cymbal-splashes and tiptoes into ‘Zombie’, a stiff, unearthing reminiscence of The Rentals’ 1995 cult hit, ‘Friends Of P’, before thrashing nightmarishly into a suburban idyll.
‘Cancellation Blues’ is a one-minute intermission, heavy and refreshing before electricity shocks into ‘Dick Whitman’, where the listener is wrapped into a frantic cyclone that spirals down, shredding everything in its path. The song dissipates and calms as the bass and drums drizzle remains from the sky, settling precariously into dust.
Like a phoenix, ‘Stars’ chugs out guitar chords and brightens Hurdle’s voice until the last refrain. One of the longest, catchiest, and what I would assume to be proudest songs off Escape comes from ‘DDT’, where it’s easy to imagine RoboCop meeting up with The Darkness for a date at Taco Bell. Weezer-worthy harmonies accentuate a pondering monologue of Taco Bell’s menu and fuzzy bass soda streamlines down into a Styrofoam cup of Baja Blast.
‘Goodnight’ punches and whirls around, drunken and spent, reflecting on the day’s occurrences. Del Rio head-nods towards a West Coast landscape in the Beach Boys-esque ‘Weekend Warrior’ between trembling, screeching guitars and batting around what to accomplish over the weekend.
Title track and last song on the album, ‘Escape From Del Rio’, is a western, italicized inflection illustrating the band’s remarkable technical skills. The Spanish-style riffs gallop along an open frontier in a lonesome horseback ride through the mesas-turned-strip malls of manifest destiny.
‘Escape From Del Rio’ is an impressive and rare offering from the Charlotte scene. The energy and confidence exuded from the entire album is a road trip panorama of an unrivaled perspective of America.