On It’s a Corporate World, Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. make good on the promises made on 2010’s Horsepower EP with an album of bittersweet, electronic indie pop. Filled with layers of vocal harmonies, downtempo drums, and innocent melodies, the pair’s full-length debut makes for an interesting summer record, tempering that carefree summer feeling with an underlying sadness. This makes for a record that’s not so much for the beach as it is for those odd rainy days spent inside, hoping that the weather breaks. Lending to this feeling is how wonderfully understated the songwriting is. While the band is most definitely a studio project, they’ve managed to avoid overcooking the album. The songs are assembled in such a minimal way that everything seems to really matter, with every detail lovingly put into place with a knack for melody that evokes Paul Simon and Paul McCartney, combing the two icons' styles beautifully on songs like the breezy “Simple Girl” and the titular track “It’s a Corporate World.” This simple construction allows the individual elements of each track to shine through, giving things like the gentle, thumping drums and lonely synthesizers of “Nothing But Our Love” to stand on their own for the listener to appreciate and absorb rather than being lost in the mix under five-dozen tracks of swirling electronic wizardry. This kind of restraint has become increasingly rare in electronic music, where the amount of layers that can be added to a song is only limited by time and imagination, but it’s crucial to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s charm, which might have been lost in a busier album. With such a terrific combination of depth, melody, and out-and-out charm, It’s a Corporate World is the perfect summer jam for anyone who spends more time wearing headphones than swim trunks.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney