San Francisco Indie band Dominant Legs haven’t been around for long, but they certainly know how to make an impact. Originally comprised of just lead guitarist/vocalist and songwriter, Ryan Lynch, before Keyboardist/vocalist Hannah Hunt joined, Dominant Legs released a critically praised EP, Young At Love And Life, in 2010. With new members Andrew Connors, Garett Goddard and Rene Solomon also joining the fold, the band didn’t take long to release their debut album, entitled Invitation. The album begins where the EP left off, making an instant impression with the effervescent opener Take A Bow, which positively bursts with energy and enthusiasm. The prominent bouncing riff is unsurprising considering that Lynch also regularly features as touring guitarist for fellow San Francisco act, Girls, whose colourful retro pop-rock was well-received on their second LP, 2011’s Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
The opener is followed by the equally infectious Where We Trip The Light, which sees another delightful guitar riff, rumbling drum beat and an enterprising horn blast on the chorus. The lead track on Invitation, Hoop Of Love, is another enticing slice of indie pop with an irresistibly addictive chorus, as Lynch sings: “Are you gonna be the one that stays entertained? / Are you gonna be the one that calls me hungry / When there isn’t anyone to say what may / become of what is already lovely”. There is nothing remarkable or groundbreaking about the song, but it’s a concise and sprightly number, with a jangly guitar that makes it undeniably enjoyable. It is followed by the contrasting Lady Is Sleek and So Petite. The song revisits ’80s synth-pop with a clapping beat and cheesy synths, but rather than demonstrating the duo’s variety, it feels all too familiar.
Synths have been ever-present in indie music recently and they feature regularly on Invitation. Darling Girls revolves around twinkling synths that combine with the sparse drum beat and flickering guitar to produce a more passible attempt at that retro ’80s sound. 2 New Thoughts About U is also laden with synths as another jaunty guitar riff – not too dissimilar to Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger – sets it all off. “I’m always listening through two new thoughts about you / Soon the group grew too much to view, still I feel alone,” growls Lynch, during the lively chorus.
The male/female vocal combination has been done to death – from The White Stripes to The Subways and Band Of Skulls – but it never gets tiresome. Hunt’s cutesy vocals certainly complement Lynch’s vocals, as demonstrated on the slow, meandering Make Time For The Boy. It’s the longest song on Invitation at 5-minutes-plus, but it is also the weakest, with a sax solo that feels contrived and completely out of place. The glossy synths and shimmering guitar of She Can Boss Me Around attempts to revive the ailing second half of the album – and is somewhat successful – although like the album’s closer, Loving now, it fails to make a significant impact.
While it’s a saying usually reserved for football matches, Dominant Legs’ debut album really is an album of two halves. After the strong opening, Invitation dwindles towards a less convincing conclusion. Invitation doesn’t reach the heights of Girls’ second album, even if Lynch’s work with the duo has clearly influenced his own sound. However, there is a lot of promise, especially in the album’s standout songs – particularly Hoop Of Love – to suggest that there is much more to come from this San Francisco outfit.