Lil Daggers are a band that formed in the summer of 2008 after being united in their love for early rock ‘n’ roll and its sub-genres such as psych-rock, punk and garage rock. Hailing from Miami, Florida – more famous for its dance festivals and its rap scene than indie bands – they have released a variety of singles and EPs that have gradually earned them more attention in the US. With that momentum behind them, their first attempt at an album, which is self-titled, finally makes its way to the UK.
It’s a brisk LP – 33 minutes long – and it doesn’t feel like they’re overstaying their welcome. Nor is it pitifully short. Having said that they’d be probably more welcomed if the songs were good enough to rival their contemporaries. Sure, Give Me The Pill is a satisfactory bluesy number with growling guitars but it lacks the punch required to render it memorable.
In fact, the majority of this debut would be best described as garage rock revival with nods to other genres – notably ’60s psychedelia. However, no matter how fierce it all is, you can’t shake off the fact that it’s nothing more than a pastiche. Wasting and Dada Brown are both fairly average except for their thumping drums and Past Due doesn’t really have a lot of substance beyond the creepy guitar melodies. Lyrically you can expect the usual cliches of the genre; Slave Exchange talks all things superstitions and good vibrations whilst Strange Wolf is all sinister and lustful. It’s all been done before.
There are one or two moments where the formula is tweaked and they do provide a welcome change of pace. Pigrose is a short and sweet campfire acoustic singalong and Pair Of Lives works well as a closer with its echo-laden arrangement giving the song a wonderfully isolated tone. Meanwhile, Ghost Herd is so different it’s almost the odd one out; bass and drums are sparse as waves of tremolo and piercing synth set the eerie scene. It’s quite basic and you wonder how much improved it would be if they were to challenge themselves even further.
Tiny experimentations aside, the main flaw with the album as a whole is its song construction. On repeated listens you almost get the sense that they’re trying to be a scuzzier version of The Strokes in the sense that they can make rock seem effortless; not needing to try hard in other words. Unfortunately, it comes across as if they’ve only achieved the very minimum because to add another dynamic would be too taxing when, in reality, it would vastly improve proceedings and maybe even elevate the songs beyond pastiche.
It’s a shame because they’ve got the makings of a rather solid debut effort. It knows what it wants to be but also throws a few curveballs to hint at further progression. If the songs were better and given a bit more work then this would have been an impressive listen but as it currently stands we’re given an album that just has a bucketload of unfulfilled potential.