New Music Reviews: Jesse and the Dandelions – ‘A Mutual Understanding’

As the title and cover art suggests, the album is rife with themes of longing, former misconceptions of love, and the desire to return to the milieu of summer; the season of potential relational change, from platonic to romantic. Not dark or 'down'—only deep, and actually really beautiful. Their most mature effort yet, A Mutual Understanding is part-confessional stories and part-growth.
 

Opening track on the album, Looking at the Sun.
 
The vocals throughout the album are lovely pop harmonies, lightweight, yet striking when necessary, and even sinewy at times. “Mistakes Often Haunted” is everything for it’s vocal work and lyrics, and great, weaving instrumental guitar. It deserves more than a single listen.

Probably one of the best examples of marriage between a driving drumbeat with melodic guitar strumming is “Sure Thing.” Fast-paced, with open moments between vocals that showcase the talent in guitar technique, “Sure Thing” is pretty satisfying. Listen closely for a soft jingle of bells from start to finish.

I give praise for the storytelling work in this album. “Only Just Be Friends”, as with most of the songs, plays-out like a linear narrative. “You called from the tip-top of a mountain / I called halfway up to meet you there / I stopped when I heard that you had found him / I tried to pretend I didn’t care.” Despite the obvious hurt in the words, it’s the work of the upbeat rhythm that keeps it chuggin’ along, thereby keeping it from being a 'sad song'. It’s concise and true, and probably the best example of the feeling of the entire album within a single song.

The album finishes off with an echo to the first track, “Looking at the Sun”, with “Looking at the Moon”. While “Sun” is likely the bounciest piece on the album, with lyrics such as “We were looking at the sun / but we weren’t getting any bright / we were so good at having fun.” “Moon” in contrast serves as the conclusion to the heartbreak. “I don’t know why you’d leave this town / it’s home to all my dearest friends / I really thought you’d change your mind / I thought I knew you better.” It’s a refusal to give-in or give-up to past emotions, and a sign of strength in moving-on.

Clearly, as the Dandelions have grown and matured in talent, this album ebbs and flows with tell-all, and it’s really fun to listen to. Named one of the Five Bands to Watch For at BreakOut West 2013 by Ominocity, Jesse and the Dandelions have continued to maintain a standing among their Western contemporaries.
 
You can purchase their album online at jesseandthedandelions.bandcamp.com.
 
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