The Dimes – The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry

The Dimes – The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry

The Dimes – The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry

There’s a small toy soldier that came with my copy of The Dimes’ newest album, The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry. It’s a further nod to their love of history and it reminds me of what these Revolutionary War soldiers might have looked like when they were making their trek past the Jefferson. The album’s painted with Old English lettering, images of the Boston Tea Party, and the press release finds the band dressed up and reading old books, so yeah, they’re pushing this concept quite a bit.

But once you get into the actual meat of the music, you’re left somewhat uninterested and ironically so, when The Dimes have done everything in their power to make it all seem beguilingly appealing. You see, the most important aspect about any album will always be the music. Regardless of whether or not you present your music in a colorful package or a black cover, no one will ever forgive if the music doesn’t live up to expectations. Unfortunately, The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry doesn’t live up and it’s quite a shame.

As much as they try to place themselves into another world, The Dimes end up sounding like counterparts Death Cab for Cutie and even The Decemberists, bands that have already mastered the craft of being book-smart and musical. On “Celia’s Garden,” the music is juxtaposed with harmonica and weak vocals that never seem to amount to much other than a restricted use of treble. It’s followed by a weaker amount of child percussion and confusing vocal tracks on “Ballad of Winslow Homer.” Taking the use of a ballad to strange effect, the music dies out with forgettable, poor decisions like an acoustic guitar that never shines and dismissible “ooh”s.

Sometimes, if you’re going to say your influences range as far as The Beatles’ White Album then maybe they should also try to sound like that – otherwise it feels like a waste of print and excitement. Even though that album features a plain white cover, the music inside of it was some of the most exciting we’ll ever know. Dejectedly, there isn’t anything on The King Can Drink the Harbour Dry that sounds as terrific as “Rocky Raccoon” or as majestic as “Good Night” and sadly, there’s nothing that sounds even remotely as good.

Mostly, the album’s mushy and gooey center is what makes it all go to waste with songs that are dying for a change of pace. Even when something like “Charles Street” shows up, with a tediously capered guitar, the band’s use of lax drums and even more bland vocals never gives it a chance. “Save Me, Clara” is the band’s shining grace, a love song that finds a solider begging for his lover to come save him. Even with the clumsy lyrics, the band is able to fully transform it into a ghostly escapade of wonder and intrigue.

Concept albums have a lot of potential but when they fail, they fail. For a band like The Dimes, there is promise in those instances where everything clicks. They don’t appear quite enough as they should but taking it in stride, there is a lot to work on. Perhaps shelving the concept album idea next time would be a start and in the meantime, getting back to basics also sounds good.

“Damrells Fire” by The Dimes

Pet Marmoset / Timber Carnival Records