I’ve said it plenty times before and I’ll continue to say it: if you aren’t listening to Dark Thoughts, you’re fucking up. I recently just caught them again at The Stone Pony opening for Propagandhi and Iron Chic, and it reminded me I never posted about one of my favorite 2018 releases.
The three piece from Philly released their sophomore album At Work earlier this summer, and just like their debut Self Titled album, it completely rips. Dark Thoughts has never been afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, and you don’t have to look further than the Ramones Leave Home inspired album art to see what the band is all about. With 12 songs clocking in around 18 minutes, Dark Thoughts plays fast, energetic punk dealing with love, depression, and the monotony of adulthood and dead end jobs.
While pretty much every punk band ever is influenced by The Ramones in one way or another , Jim (vocals/guitar), Amy (bass), and Daniel (drums) really nail that Ramones sound from the timbre of the instruments to the snotty, half crooning/half snarling vocals. But calling them a Ramones worship band would really be doing them a disservice, as their music has enough energy and enthusiasm to make it their own identity.
Kicking the album off is “Gimme Soda”, a quick energetic under a minute song that starts off with just the guitars and vocals (a recurring thing the band does yet somehow manages to never gets stale). “Anything II” is a reprise of sorts, picking up where their Self Titled album closer “Anything” left off, with its lyrics “It’s such a shame about you, we could have been history. But now we’re just history”.
“Pyscho Ward” is one of my favorites on the album, with it’s infectious melody and lyrics “I don’t wanna be here, I don’t wanna be anywhere, but I got no choice”. “With You” takes a departure from their usual style and instead slowing things down to ballad level. Things pick right back up though with followup “Watch You Walk Away”.
“I Hate This Song” is another favorite one of mine off the album, with its all to relatable no bullshit lyrics “I hate this song, I hate the bands playing, I hate the people who listen, I hate the records they put out”. Jim perfectly captures the feeling of being completely and utterly jaded (something I find myself struggling with in my 30s), and with the closing lyrics of “I don’t wanna write sad songs anymore, I don’t wanna write happy songs anymore, I don’t wanna do anything anymore” takes a snapshot of the struggles of depression and apathy where the things you once loved seem more like a chore.
Easily one of my favorite releases of the year, Dark Thoughts released the perfect follow-up to their debut. If you like energetic pop-punk in the veins of The Ramones, Mean Jeans, or Teenage Bottlerocket, give At Work a listen.