2010’s Steal Your Face had some great dub-style bass, and with the departure of bass player Jacob Long, this year’s Dolphins became a prime opportunity for Mi Ami to experiment with electronic—hell, what else are you going to do when you lose the focal point of your band? So Damon Palermo and Daniel Martin-McCormick picked up a drum machine and sampler and created a four-track 12-inch of danceable efforts.
And it’s pretty fucking awful. This isn’t their first foray into disco/dance territory—Martin-McCormick has a side project, Sex Worker, of a slightly more muted, Italo-disco-inspired style, and Mi Ami’s experimented in the previous part of its career (see 2009’s Cut Men single). But Mi Ami used to fit beautifully into that vague tropical-punk territory, alongside Abe Vigoda and, even more vaguely, the Fresh and Onlys. Martin-McCormick’s guitar sliced like a knife, and their bass and percussion wove together to create hypnotic rhythm bothered only by Martin-McCormick’s Johnny Whitney wail. Which is where this Dolphins EP largely goes wrong.
The music itself is forgettable and feels like an amateur attempt at capitalizing on the recent-ish dance trend among indie kids; its programming is comfortable and fails to take risks the way Mi Ami did as a traditional (albeit untraditional) rock trio. Exception being Martin-McCormick’s high cry, which interferes with all steady rhythms and makes tracks like opener “Hard Up” just plain painful. The move to not replace their lost member and steer in a new direction is admirable, but in sum finds me saying little more than, “Come back, Jacob Long.” [Thrill Jockey]
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