Pray 4 Tomorrow by Dumb album review by Leslie Ken Chu for Northern Transmissions


Pray 4 Tomorrow


It’s ironic that on an album that vents about being burnt out and running on fumes, Dumb work overtime on Pray 4 Tomorrow to deliver 18 tracks, the Vancouver rock quartet’s beefiest set of hits yet. The title marks a notable change in stance for a group that once sang “Don’t sweat it /… / Tomorrow is just a waste of time.”

Since forming in 2015, Dumb have been a staple of Vancouver’s DIY circles. It’s no surprise, then, inhabiting underfunded, under-resourced spaces as they do, that Dumb have always railed against capitalistic forces that seem apathetic, if not wholly antagonistic, to the arts and humans’ general well-being. But Dumb reach a breaking point on Pray 4 Tomorrow, their third LP for Vancouver’s flagship indie label, Mint Records.

Images of incomplete maps repeat throughout Pray 4 Tomorrow, reflecting singer-guitarist Franco Rossino’s brain fog. Driven mad by the need to work and be a “productive” human being—a contributing member of and asset to society—he descends into a delirium. He’s rendered incoherent; his thoughts are void of substance. Bassist Shelby Vredik echoes his state on “Strange Is the Morning,” one of her two lead vocal debuts on Pray 4 Tomorrow: “Half of what I say / I think is purely ornamental / Can’t promise that I mean it / Don’t dig too deep here.” Though Rossino loses grip on reality on “Out of Touch” (“I can see you talking, but it sounds like simulations,” his sings), he grasps one of life’s harsh truths: “Until you’re deemed proficient in the field, you’re out of touch.”

On “Dropout,” Rossino lays prostrate, capitulating to the demands of the capitalistic grind: “I’m ready for my lobotomy / Give me something I can swallow easy / Down, like iconography / I won’t eat gastronomy / Just loaf of bread and block of cheese,” he sings, acquiescing with his face in the floor. In the doldrums of burnout, Rossino finds everything futile or pointless, even if it’s as petty as a domestic quibble (“30 Degrees”). Lodged in such despair, listeners will wish he’d follow through on “Sleep Like a Baby,” where he not only lays down boundaries but straight up wants to quit as well. And on “Watch This Drive,” he vents: “I’m suffocating / Low on thoughts or options, I’m unconscious.”

When Dumb snap out of their daze, they really snap. Rossino cops to coming unhinged, calling himself “a wild rat losing control” on “Foot Control.” Maybe it’s delusions of grandeur, but he ascribes nobility to his confrontational temperament: “I express my anger through accepted indignations,” he sings on “Out of Touch” before admitting, “I enjoy losing my patience, I like telling people off / I’m like a knight in armour slaying content farmer’s social credit.” If any of this seems extreme, as he queries on “Excuse Me,” “If I had to do it low-key / Then what good would living do me?”

Between the rage fits and dulled mental platitudes, Dumb manage to slip into fantasies of pleasure, though they can never lose themselves completely. “Feels like nothing ever changes / Pushing boulders / Picking clovers / Making bread,” Rossino laments in a moment of free association on “Pull Me Up.” And “The Entertainer” is the This Is Fine or burning Sims baby meme in song form—Vredik dreams of kicking back, sipping a beverage, and throwing knives at a tree, “passing by the time as if the time, it came free.” But she can’t help but wonder, “Has it really changed, or are we just entertaining / That something has not come undone / The space just needs a little rearranging?”

Pray 4 Tomorrow retreads much ground for Dumb. Discontent about capitalism and ennui about modernity backed by catchy punk blasts and squealing guitar feedback are par for the course for the agitators. But Rossino knows he harps on Pray 4 tomorrow’s themes a lot. On “Pull Me Up,” he’s that guy at the party punishing everyone with his nonsense. “Lately I’ve been sitting on a dime anticipating / I’ve been aching for my friends to pull me up out of this basement / Find me in the centre of your favourite bathroom lineup / Spouting stuff I heard online for about the hundredth time,” he sings, tired of himself.

Moreover, on Pray 4 Tomorrow, Dumb continue to tighten their sound, reining in the chaos and making for their cleanest, most melodic work yet; lead guitarist Nick Short’s virtuosity never falters. And as always, intentionally or not, Dumb play the smart long game of introducing incremental changes. Left-field additions like guest Andromeda Monk’s wailing sax on “Beef Hits,” from 2019’s Club Nites, are always their albums’ greatest rewards, and Dumb are back with more brass on Pray 4 Tomorrow, with Kristy-Lee Audette playing trumpet on “Dropout” and “Sleep Like a Baby.” Songs where drummer Pipé Morelli leads vocals in Spanish always become instant fan favourites, and on Pray 4 Tomorrow, he’s back on the mic on heavy handed bilingual jam “Pensar.”

Despite the thick fog of war that shrouds Pray 4 Tomorrow, Dumb continue to uncover new ground, gradually colouring in all the grey areas. Tomorrow looks brighter with every step.

Pre-order Pray 4 Tomorrow by Dumb HERE


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