Album Reviews

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – It’s A Corporate World

(Warner) UK release date: 28 May 2012

There are two types of people in this world: people you like, and people you hate. Oh, and people you’re ambivalent about. THREE. There are three types of people in this world. People you like and people you hate and people you’re ambivalent about.

Albums are like people. There are good albums. There are bad albums. And there are albums you just don’t mind. The albums you don’t mind, well, they’re the worst albums of all.

Because they’re the hardest to actually spend time talking about. Sadly, It’s A Corporate World is one of those albums. It is OK. It does not offend. It does not provoke homicidal thoughts. Should you be lying in a field chewing a dandelion, watching the sky pass by, thinking of nothing in particular, it would be a completely valid choice of musical companion.

A fairly straightforward selection of melodic indie-pop, infused with little squiggles of warm electronica, it is perfect for staring at clouds and occasionally shouting “That one looks like a dragon”. Then, after a while, you remember you had something else to do and somewhere else to be and you take your headphones off and you get on with your life.

They clearly like Simon & Garfunkel. And sweet harmonies. And nice acoustic guitars. And they’ve got an uncanny knack of making their electronic squiggles sound totally organic such that they blend seamlessly in. It’s not not nice. It’s also not vastly exciting.

The better bits are the ones with a hint of a harder edge. The opening Morning Thought has a satisfying crunch to the beat, and is quietly euphoric, while their cover of Gil Scott-Heron‘s We Almost Lost Detroit is a respectful re-imagining that doesn’t entirely lose the lyrical fire with which it originally burned.

But everywhere else, it’s soft and pleasant and lacking anything memorable. Although, perhaps it better explains the name: for those of you unfamiliar with American motorsport, Dale Earnhardt Jr is a ‘world’ famous (like the World Series) NASCAR driver. NASCAR is a motorsport without corners. It’s A Corporate World is a record without corners.

Allegedly, when they chose their name, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr wrote to their elder namesake to apologise and assure him they weren’t taking the piss. Which is a nice gesture. But, given that the major problem with It’s A Corporate World is that it’s all a bit too nice, you wonder if they may have been better served sending him a letter saying he looked fat in overalls.

A meaner streak may have meant that this album was more than the soporifically nice experience flittering by forgettably that it has turned out to be.

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