reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Burlington’s Dakota Mill spends a lot of time searching on AGES — the latest EP from the project that began as a form of self exploration. If finding the self was the destination in mind for Dakota Mill, AGES provides a perfect example of the journey being more significant. Cliches are often borne from some truth, after all.
The searching stretches out: from the grasping towards something good but just out of reach on “Old Souls” to the desire to concretize what cannot be seen on “Pass Of Time”. The album concludes with “Home”, detailing the universal search for a safe place to exist, particularly after a signifiant life change. Bradon Dougherty is the primary songwriter and performer on the project, and his lyrics often tend to the darker side, pushing into needs and desires. The music, on the other hand, floats with pop sensibility, skyrocketing with catchy hooks and big choruses.
Crisp production, layers of sound, and the occasional sing-along repetition will strike a chord with alternative rock fans (“The Note” evokes Cage the Elephant vocal forwardness), while the careful songwriting earns its place with the indie-folk tag the album has taken on. In the case of “Up Against the Wall”, this juxtaposition finds strength by avoiding the loneliness of the single-voice self-exploration songwriting, but in other moments it feels like the pop hooks detract from the weight of the meaning: the singalong chorus of “Old Souls” feels familiar compared to the complexity of the song’s optimism.
Dakota Mill’s AGES is an introspective project with no shortage of fun to it. You can imagine it blasting through a party, playing in the background while hanging out with a couple of friends, or having a moment with the lyrics by yourself. And if AGES is part of the journey, I hope, perhaps selfishly, that the destination isn’t too close.
Top Track: “Up Against the Wall”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)