On their first full-length Little Machines, The Danger O’s have blended several styles with such natural grace that they sound as familiar and broken-in as one of your favorite, feel-good discs. Although their melding of Husker Du-like emo, Fugazi-like eccentricity and quick, punk drumbeats don’t necessarily make them original, they turn out to be truly one of a kind in the end.
Maybe it’s the fact that singer/bassist Justin Johnson is undaunted when it comes to delivering high-pitched, shameless, effeminately creepy vocals. Maybe it’s drummer Drew Mangler’s intuition for when to unleash hysterical fervor and when to jest with dainty syncopation. In any case, The Danger O’s have some exuberant masterpieces on this too-short, six-song album.
A highlight, “Distress,” opens with a simple, addictive guitar riff reminiscent of the Pixies, gains momentum with guitarist Jeff Blide’s backing vocals, and culminates in a chorus with Johnson singing, “She’s in distress when she finds me in her dress.” The song does exactly what music is supposed to do – engage you in an image and give you a sense of (not just transvestite) freedom.
The happiness-in-perspective on Little Machines insinuates a maturity beyond this 2-year-old band’s career. On the other hand, their upbeat tempos create an image of rollicking, carefree youth having a damn good time with love and life.