The sound of Detroit quartet Bonny Doon is not what you’d expect to come out of the Motor City. The band is more lyrical than house and more acoustic than Motown. Although it falls within the country-rock genre, the band’s new self-titled album has more alternative influences. The poignant lyrics of singers Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo mesh nicely with Jake Kmiecek’s drums and Joshua Brooks’ bass.
“I See You” starts with a quick-tempo acoustic guitar as Lennox sings, “A close-up on eternity/A sad pitcher in the minor leagues/Look out the window, do you see me?” before drummer Kmiecek picks up the pace. The reflective lyrics paired with the tempo change feel like the hesitant excitement of starting a new life stage.
The lyrics “I’m broken down/I’m all lit up/Drinking green chartreuse from a plastic cup/Another year’s gone by/Hell, I’m still alive,” describes those brief but ever-present moments we all have when we feel impervious to the erosion of time. “I got a couple texts/From my mom,” Lennox sings about his mother wishing him happy birthday, with an audible tinge of guilt, “We miss you won’t you come on home.” The song’s breezy melody is offset by Lennox’s poignant and emotional lyrics of changes, aging and familial guilt.
Meanwhile, “What Time Is It In Portland,” is more melancholic but just as contemplative. The scratching electronica undertones distract from the pensive lyrics. “I’ve seen five generations of friends come and go through this revolving door town/And the kids coming up, they wear nicer shoes than the ones we used to wear,” Colombo reminisces on his youth with a wistful observation.
The melody is again easygoing and affable, but it’s offset by darker lyrics, “Only fools fight when they know they’re gonna lose.” The well-crafted combination of pensive lyrics and upbeat melody gives the album a brooding yet cathartic mood, even with the distracting undertones. When Colombo sings, “I know it’s rude but when I’m introduced I find it truly hard to care” and “Getting to know the feeling of being obsolete,” he offers a depressive sense of apathy and futility, which many can relate to.
Overall, the album is a step away from country-rock and punk, and toward a more authentic sound from the youthful group.
Follow columnist Ian Firstenberg at Twitter.com/IanFirstenberg.