Mozes and the Firstborn

Dadcore

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Continuing to expand beyond their scrappy garage pop roots, Dutch indie rockers Mozes and the Firstborn take a more varied approach on Dadcore, their wily third full-length. As on 2016's surprisingly strong Great Pile of Nothing, the quartet wield their knack for melody with increasing ease, laying out 11 hooky new cuts interspersed with seven brief sonic interludes whose single character names spell out the album's title ("D," "A," "D," and so on). Still a relatively young band, the Firstborn haven't matured quite enough to settle into natural dadcore mediocrity, and if the various forms of guitar rock they celebrate here fall under any loose associations of "dad rock," they do so with plenty of craft and charm. The sing-along punk of the title track is so sugary and infectious, it hardly matters whether they're yelling "dadcore" or "popcorn." With its slide guitar, harmonica, and loose, jangling vibe, "Baldy" chugs vaguely into rootsy classic rock territory while the excellent "Blow Up" revisits the springy '90s-indebted alt-pop that marked much of their previous release. Bottom-heavy riffs and grungy guitar grooves remain the Firstborn's bailiwick and frontman Melle Dielesen's voice breaks up in all the right places, giving certain lines a ragged panache. The six-minute standout "Scotch Tape Stick with Me" plays out as a sort of scuzzy indie rock suite, changing tempos and segueing into a spoken word section bookended by big rousing choruses and strong harmonies. On paper, Mozes and the Firstborn seem like they could easily fall on the wrong side of jokey lo-fi slackery, but on Dadcore they once again prove their worth with a deceivingly smart and undeniably catchy third outing.

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