Most people don’t like going to the dentist, but I can safely say that most people like listening to Dentist — that band, that is. The three-piece, genre defying group calls the eclectic oceanfront city of Asbury Park, NJ home. With Emily Bornemann on vocals and bass, Justin Bornemann on guitar, and Matt Hockenjos on drums, you can’t really go wrong, because they touch upon different styles and different meanings within each and every one of their songs. The album starts with an almost surf pop sound, but the further you walk down the tracks, it becomes more garage band rager-esque…in the best way.
You might be asking, “What makes a song a ‘garage band rager’?” To you, it could be “Moon Over Marin” by Dead Kennedys or “Weightless” by All Time Low or something that your favorite local band put out on SoundCloud. All of those songs and more hold a key aspect to them that gives them that well-rounded power. It’s not just the high level of volume, it’s not always the clever lyrics, and it’s surely not only the head pounding rhythm. It’s the authenticity. The origin of garage bands is just that — a garage, home, the beginning of it all. The best part about these songs, these bands, and this style is that it comes with a freshness and honesty that commercialized bands can’t always bring to the table. Dentist does that time and time again because no matter their song or the genre it falls into, it’s authentic.
Night Swimming is Dentist’s most genre defying album to date. It’s soul bearing, crushing, and uplifting. The ninth track on this new record, “Corked”, is a song that I find to be a California drizzled, classically punk anti-love song. It’s upbeat, almost naive, with an outstanding melody that has you swaying your body and tapping for your foot to the lyrics, “Something’s wrong again/‘Cause we’re still friends.” The infectious beat doesn’t start or end here, but it definitely peaks. Although, the opening track has the complete package when it comes to powerful, swelling riffs and hooks. “Upset Words”, that very special opening song, is actually the furthest thing from upsetting. Dentist’s beach pop aesthetic is in full-throttle as the guitar riff ramps up for the aggressively catchy tempo that this song has.
“Tight Spot,” found earlier on the record, is a bass and drum heavy track that completely embodies that garage band rager ideal described earlier. It’s upbeat, but not in a California sunshine type of way. It is more of a CBGB based song with an inkling of indie pop swirled in for good, fun measure. This song hits all the right notes as Emily takes her airy, innocent vocals to a place that is out of this world. There is a clear change of heart between one half of the album to the other; from optimistic outlooks and hope to closed off mindsets and anxiety. It’s a delirious twist of angst, rebellion, love, and purity.
I’ll be honest, not every song on Night Swimming completely amazes me, but the album as a whole does, for sure. Why? Because like I said, it touches upon varieties of music, some of which I adore and some of which are not always my personal cup of tea, but each one is so uniquely Dentist that you can’t help but appreciate the creativity and dedication that came with it.