Like the city they come from, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. are nostalgic, hopeful, and complicated, making dense electronic pop filled with pulsing beats and drifting melodies that evoke the pleasantness of the past while firmly facing the future. On The Speed of Things, the second outing from the Detroit duo, the pair return with a sound that feels refined yet somehow effortless, often drifting casually from track to track in a way that feels completely natural. This gives the album a wistful, reminiscent feeling, with songs like "Beautiful Dream" (and its reprise later in the album) evoking the kind of never-ending backyard bonfires that bring people together to get away from the modern world for a minute to connect over stories of the past. Keeping the album from getting too nostalgic is the production, which pairs the band's bittersweet vocal melodies with an electronic landscape that skirts the line between busy and lush, making them bewildering enough to get lost in but bewitching enough that you don't really mind all that much. Compared to their last album, The Speed of Things is a much more relaxed endeavor, but that laid-back vibe is exactly where Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. seem to thrive. By slowing things down a bit, they're able to let the knack for melody do a lot of the heavy lifting, giving the songs an airiness that's unlike any other electronic band out there. This makes The Speed of Things not only an excellent follow-up to their already stellar debut, but an album that you'd almost have to try not to like.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney