One thing I love about Dirty Heads is while they have an extremely signature sound, it’s still nearly impossible to put your finger on exactly what makes Dirty Heads the Dirty Heads. I opened the listening link for Midnight Control, the Huntington Beach five-piece’s eighth studio album, a couple weeks ago. I had no idea what to expect, aside from the four singles they already released, yet I was optimistic, because, hey, they’re the Dirty Heads. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I’m beyond stoked on their sound, live performances and whatever else the wild minds of founding members Jared Watson and Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell create.
I was not disappointed.
Individualistic as they are catchy, the 10 total tracks wax between hyper-melodic choruses, heavy hip hop bass lines, poppy bridges and literally everything in between, punctuated by Bushnell’s twangy verses and Watson’s vicious, unrelenting bars.
I’ve been back in Hawai’i for a week now and have heard “Island Glow” and “Heavy Water” — the second being a collaborative single with Common Kings — playing from friends’ car sound systems or home speakers on more than one occasion. Call it expert Spotify placement, dumb luck or a far-reaching fanbase, there’s no question about Midnight Control being ‘good’ or not. There’s also no question about the album being well received, because at Saturday’s beach party no less than five people were singing along with me to the reimagined Joe Walsh track “Life’s Been Good”.
Lyrically, ‘Midnight Control’ isn’t a huge step in any different direction for Watson and Bushnell.
As primary songwriters and creative leads, the duo yet again touch on love aspects, like in the raw and unrequited love detailed in the album’s namesake, “Midnight Control”, evidenced when Watson croons “I know she only good in moderation” or when Bushnell spits with vengeance “It’s like a game the way she plays around with my emotions”.
The flip-side of romantic themes reference a real, longterm, tender love, like in “Little Things” and “Make Me” — the latter a cheeky nod to actually making love. The former symbolizes a signature and ongoing theme in Dirty Heads songwriting repertoire: lounging with the love of your life, taking them in, feeling the ocean breeze and letting the world slip away around you. “We can smell the ocean from a half made bed,” Watson croons (and we melt). But, even more than a love song, “Little Things” is about being a loving family unit, evidenced in the hyper-domestic, superdad line: “Kids running ’round with the bare feet // Man, this is life, ain’t it lovely?”
Catch the Dirty Heads on September 24th in San Diego at the inaugural Mission Bayfest, a one-day festival on the water where sources say there are rumors swirling the group may perform “Island Glow” live for the very first time! Listen to Midnight Control on all digital streaming platforms and buy tickets for Mission Bayfest, as well as other upcoming Dirty Heads shows below.
Purchase or stream ‘Midnight Control’ album:
- Island Glow
- Heavy Water, feat. Common Kings
- Life’s Been Good
- Make Me
- Midnight Control
- Little Things
- El Dorado
- Live Your Life
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.