Music Review: “This Will Haunt Me” – Dollar Signs

Hey. How are you? Everything going okay? I mean that honestly, is there anything I can do to help you out? I ask all this because I’m feeling like things haven’t been good in a while. Nevermind the adult anxiety, occupational ennui, and relationship frustrations that set in during one’s late 20’s. On top of all of that our society is as fractured as it has ever been. North Korea is probably still making nuclear weapons. And, uh, I guess TanaCon fell apart. Sometimes things just suck and you just need to voice that. Or in Dollar Signs case, write a punk rock record filled with enough deprecation, sarcasm, and vigor to sweat out the demons.

Throughout This Will Haunt Me singer/guitarist Erik Button bounces between musings on his emotional status quo and vignettes of his life. Accounts of weddings with his girlfriend, banal conversations with creepy coworkers, and ignored texts critiquing James Cameron’s Avatar are accentuated with a touch of self – loathing and dry humour. Only an adept satirist can pull off lyrics like “Always the drunk never the bride. Do the electric slide.”  Exhibit B: take his realization presented at the end of “The Devil Wears Flannel”, when he sings “And I don’t want to offend the satanist, the Devil is a pop genius but Satan is kind of a shitty lyricist. I wanted to sing the human experience, the Devil taught me – no one cares about that shit. Everyone just wants a love song about them.” The combination of jest and poignancy drenched in his narrative style expertly convey Button’s aspirational and personal frustrations and their dour effect on his overall demeanor. Not feeling a sense of accomplishment can be tough, but coupled with prevailing notions of disappointing loved ones make it paralyzing and one can really empathize with him through these songs.

You’d think an album filled with fear, remorse, and anxiety would be such a downer, however, the blistering energy of most of the songs prevent you from getting bogged down in depressing sentiments. The unrelenting power chords create a sort of catharsis and through all the dread and fear and sadness Button’s yells invite you to yell and purge along with him. The album also has enough variety with slower ballads, songs featuring multiple time changes, and diverse instruments like horns and synths to keep your interest peaked throughout.

It’s important to note that the album doesn’t stay all gloom and doom. By the end Button’s attitude has completely changed. He’s grown from helplessness to hopefulness, despondency to determination. His journey of vulnerability and self-deprecation leads him to the realization that maybe all he needs to do is talk about his worries more, or even better sing about them. “Now there’s sweaty hugs and pumping fists, and life that no longer feels meaningless,” he sings on the last track “The Real Folk Blues”. It’s a moment of triumphant clarity that overshadows every negative emotion he recounted earlier and serves as a fitting closer to the journey of growth and maturation he took us on.

So, yeah, things are rough and can/will get rough. But I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that I’m right there with you. But if that ever seems insufficient, be sure to throw on “This Will Haunt Me” and host your own personal exorcism. Make sure your air guitar is tuned up beforehand.

Label: A – F Records
Release Date: July 13th, 2018

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