When Dot Hacker recorded their debut album, Inhibition, it was just prior to lead singer/songwriter Josh Klinghoffer’s invitation into the Red Hot Chili Peppers, putting the record’s release on hold. When the record finally did drop in 2012, I was pretty impressed with a lot of the tracks, but the product felt like a mixed bag. Although the album itself was pretty much spotty, highlights such as “Eye Opener” and “Order/Disorder” are tracks I still play regularly to this day. It’s a shame that record came out as it did, as there were lots of unheard potential waiting to be unlocked.
This time around, Klinghoffer has finished touring with the Peppers, and has regrouped with the rest of the band for the recording of this new album, which is split into two parts: Work, and Play. Unlike its predecessor two years prior, Work is a much more cohesive and enjoyable album listening experience. At only six tracks and a running time of 31 minutes, Work fills in the gaps that Inhibition fell short of.
The album’s opener, “Aim”, is a sprawling six-minute track that contains very satisfying vocal melodies and drum fills. Klinghoffer’s voice croons over the moody, atmospheric instrumentation that properly complements the urgency of his voice. It’s a truly pleasant track to put on, and a fantastic opener to the record.
The two singles “Elevator” and “Whatever You Want” are a great one-two punch in the track listing. “Elevator” delivers an initially tedious groove, but it slowly works its way up to being a very interesting track that holds an immense amount of replay value. “Whatever You Want” is a straightforward rocker with an explosive chorus that perfectly combines Klinghoffer’s poppy, melodic approach used with the Peppers, and the ferocity of bassist Jonathan Hischke’s work with Hella. It’s an awe-inspiring song that’s a candidate for my favorite tracks list at the end of this year.
Although these moments are very high, not all moments on this record are nearly as great. The melody on “First in Forever” quickly becomes stale and tedious, and the groove on the track “Floating Up The Stairs” just as monotonous as the track progresses. Additionally, the track “Sermon of Sorts” is a bland and disappointing track to close out the record.
Despite these criticisms, the positives outweigh the negatives here. Although it’s still a spotty release, Work is a much better record than their debut. Dot Hacker returns with a much more refined and intriguing effort that’s good enough to get people excited for the album’s second’s half, due out this October.
Buy the album or preorder How’s Your Process? (Play) here.