Richard Dawson – 2020 [Review]

Released in 2019 on Domino Records

Format: LPx2

Released in 2019, Richard Dawson’s 2020 finds the eccentric songwriter moving away from Middle-Earthian imagery to that of our modern dystopia. Though the record doesn’t predict everything about its namesake year, it paints bleakly honest portraits of life under neoliberal capitalist realism, finding dark humor in its satire and lamentations. Each track gets told through the eyes of a different character, including a depressed and perpetually bored civil servant; a UFO-obsessed divorcee whose wife left him for someone from Pilates class; an anxious freelance graphic designer trying to find some semblance of contentment through jogging and beta-blockers; and an exhausted seasonal employee working at a certain corporation’s fulfillment center during the holidays. Despite the downtrodden subjects, the music is often bright, catchy, and energized; Dawson weaves intricate layers of chirping synthesizers, agitated drums, caffeinated bass scribbles, and angular guitars into dense art-rock arrangements full of longing, hope, and a determined spirit.

Style: Progressive Songwriter, Art Rock, Progressive Pop

Vibe: Satirical, Depressive, Anxious, Dystopian, Bright, Eccentric, Existential, Longing, Pessimistic, Urban, Storytelling

Musical Qualities: Complex, Dense, Progressive, Intricate, Dynamic, Conceptual


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