Dirty on Purpose
By: Jessica Grose
There is music that you have to be in a certain mood to listen to: You wouldn’t want to listen to Andrew W.K. if you’re in the middle of a wallow-fest. There is other music that is so powerful that it elicits its own mood, even when you’re in no mood in particular. Brooklyn-based Dirty on Purpose’s “Cheat Death” has this kind of potency: The lush, shimmering strings, soft, ephemeral voices, and truly affecting lyrics about a loved one’s illness are enough to bring even the happiest camper to swift tears.
What’s so affecting about “Cheat Death” is its subtlety. Its lyrics don’t beat you over the head with histrionics — Dirty on Purpose captures the quiet shock of a small tragedy — “The cabin shook and listed / When you screamed / I found some whiskey in the kitchen / And poured it in your tea / I tried to calm you / I kissed your neck / And I cooled your forehead / And the telephone went dead… Break the fever and cheat death one more time.” “Cheat Death” is so beautiful and well crafted, you don’t even notice that it’s over six minutes long — almost twice as long as any other song on the EP, Sleep Late For a Better Tomorrow.
Sleep Late For a Better Tomorrow isn’t all mope-core. “All New Friends” has the kind of upbeat instrumentation of Belle and Sebastian. The blending of a mellow male and a gentle female voice create a near-lullabye kind of sound — something along the lines of Yo La Tengo’s harmonies that could calm squalling babies.
According to some live reviews, the soft sound of the EP might be a bit misleading. Despite their affinity for melody, it sounds like Dirty on Purpose still knows how to rock. Dirty on Purpose will be playing a show at the CMJ Festival in New York with the Upwelling (read more), Youth Group, Chin Up Chin Up, Amusement Parks on Fire, Dressy Bessy (read more), Apollo Sunshine, and Kid Dakota.
Upcoming Dirty on Purpose Shows:
9/17, New York, NY (Mercury Lounge – CMJ Music Marathon) 10/1, Boston, MA (Lizard Lounge – NEMO Music Conference)