In many ways, Dirty on Purpose are the typical indie rock band. They boast the usual collection of atmospheric noise, acoustic instruments, and lazy-on-purpose vocal styles. It’s all tied together with vintage artwork and indie label distribution.
It’d be easy to write this band off as nothing more than another run-of-the-mill indie rock band (and it’d make my job a lot easier), but Dirty on Purpose are more than what is seen and heard on the surface. A closer listen reveals the intricacies and nuances of a band that’s willing to borrow from the best of the current and past while forging new paths and trying new things.
Dirty on Purpose’s latest effort, the five song EP Like Bees, displays a band on top of their game, creating songs that show why rock music continues to thrive outside of the major-label, top forty distribution network. It has very little to do with market share or radio airplay, but everything to do with the music.
Like Bees starts off with the explosive “Audience,” which begins with pounding drums and a distorted bass guitar that’s reminiscent of British band Doves (who, stylistically, seems to be a strong influence, whether intentionally or not). On top of drummer Doug Martin’s straightforward rock-and-roll beats, guitarist Joseph Jurewicz mixes acoustic rhythms with jangly layers of electric guitar and delay effects. It’s a style that reveals what is to come in the next four songs, as Dirty on Purpose throws all of their multiple musical influences out there and ties it all together beautifully.
The rest of the album continues to swarm around you with swirling atmosphere and heavy bass. The title track “Like Bees” add female vocalist Jaymay to the mix, and the band comes in with a dreamy-pop style that draws you in. Jaymay sings: “angels swarm like bees at our command / all around us,” revealing a band that takes poetic license and nuance to levels both musical and lyrical. “Back to Sleep” also adds Jaymay’s vocals (along with Jurewicz ) on top of a simple drum beat and guitars that move in opposing directions. On a closer listen, “Back to Sleep” also adds some atmospheric synthesizers for a subtle edge. It’s an engulfing start to a short but sweet EP.
The album ends with the e-bow effects of “Send Me an Angel,” bringing us back to the subject matter of “Like Bees.” It’s as if everything on this album is happening in the clouds: angels, swarms of bees, even the cover art of fish looking up, as if attentive to what is happening above them. By now, the guitar work is a given, but it’s still as powerful as it was at the beginning of “Audience,” and Martin’s drums out the disco/dance beats that seem so popular in modern indie music, revealing another layer of indie rock influence this band displays.
The last track brings us back down from the heights of “Send Me an Angel” with “Airshow Disaster.” Appropriately named, the song is more reverent and brings the listener back down to earth, but is still full of atmospheric reverb and delay. “Airshow Disaster” is all instrumental, a nice end to an album that blends vocals and guitars so well (it’s also the perfect track for an EP like this).
Dirty on Purpose are a fairly new band, but they are getting some serious praise from the indie rock community since they released 2005′s Hallelujah Sirens. Like Bees is the band’s second EP, and it signals that there is more to come from this band as they evolve and gain more listeners.