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In Review: Dominic Fike's "Sunburn"

Dominic Fike is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, and actor from Naples, Florida. He first caught the attention of the general public through his first project, Don't Forget About Me, Demos. His story is unlike any other, and his genre-bending abilities continue to remain unmatched. This is obvious, even in his latest release, an album titled, Sunburn.


SOUND

Dominic starts this album with the passionate track, “How Much Is Weed?” showcasing compelling production that is produced by hit-maker Jim-E Stack, whose work is featured frequently throughout this project. This track is percussion and bass-heavy, and the guitar tone is quite mellow. This song is the start of Dominic showcasing his impressive rapping skills, which he brilliantly features in many other tracks. He then taps into an early ’90s/2000s rock sound with “Ant Pile,” a fun track that highlights intense guitar and bass lines. “Think Fast” continues this distinct post-punk sound as he interpolates the Weezer's iconic track, “Undone-The Sweater Song,” enhancing the song with a build-up of energy within the bridge and final chorus. Dominic even features background vocals from River Cuomo, the lead singer of Weezer.

Dominic does a full 360 and picks up a slight bluesy sound on the track “Sick.” The way he plays with vocal tones during the chorus stands out, as it feels like he is engaging in conversation with his lost lover. He fills out the track with magnificent vocal stacking, and the instrumentation here blends beautifully. Dominic’s unique vocals continue to be heard on “7 Hours” as he uses heavy warping effects, mixing his alternative vocal sounds with complex stacked guitar lines.


“Dancing in the Courthouse” takes listeners back to Dominic’s powerful rock vocals, but his driving production stays consistent. This song feels like summer in the best way, with upbeat drums and blaring harmonies. The next track, “Mona Lisa,” has a star-studded list of producers, including Kenny Beats, Beat Butcha, Will Yanez, and Stargate, which can be heard in the track’s complex sounds, including a funky bass line that blends perfectly with the percussive elements on the track. “Bodies” is a track straight out of the prominent R&B era in the ’90s, with a divergent twist. Remi Wolf joins Dominic here for the first time after they collaborated on her hit song “Photo ID.” Their vocals fit perfectly, melting together, and together, they never fail to create the most lively piece of art. Their synergy, mixed with the wonderful ambiance of the choir at the end of the track, gives the song a very bright atmosphere.


Dominic switches to a more somber sound with “Sunburn” as he takes a more serious tone to tell a story. His tone when rapping is real and raw, forcing listeners to take in his every word. The next two tracks, “Pasture Child” and “4x4,” have more minimal production, allowing Dominic's vocals to be in the forefront, and his harmonies add body to the tracks, rounding out the stellar production. “Frisky” is a track where Dominic's acoustic can shine. The guitar almost acts as percussion, as it sounds so clear and sharp.

“Mama’s Boy” takes a complete turn sonically, with Dominic tapping back into more electronic and erratic production, thanks to producers Sam Homme, Jim-E Stack, Devin Workman, and Henry Kwapis. This track has an eerie feel to it, especially towards the end, when distorted sounds burst through, and the voices of children ring out in front of the distortion. The last tracks, “Dark” and “What Kinda Woman,” end the album on a melancholy note. The production is more intimate and bare, allowing the pain in Dominic's voice to be heard distinctly. Dominic’s pristine sound on this album earns him a 9/10 on the Intersect Rating Scale.


LYRICS

Dominic can be extremely vulnerable at times on this album, especially on the first track, “How Much Is Weed?”. Here he reminisces on how no one believed in him when he first started his career, saying, “Friends and family never cared about the Grammys, 'Til I grew up out the hand-me-downs and bought the family.” Dominic has talked immensely about how hard his childhood was. He continues to explore his family turmoil in “Mama’s Boy,” where he says, “half of my heart is in your chest,” describing how strong of a connection he feels to his mother. Even though this connection is intense, he also feels pressure to be a provider for her, even if it comes with a mountain of stress. “Dark” is arguably one of the most intimate tracks on this album lyrically. Dominic compares himself to an unexpected antagonist, saying, “I became my dad, I would break promises that I would make to my favorite people.”


Dominic also explores the difficulty of romantic relationships in many of the album’s songs. On “Sick,” he sings, “Cause you make me (Sick), And I make you (Sick), And we can't be (Friends), 'Cause I'm still in (Love).” He speaks on the conflicting feelings that come with the ending of a relationship. One may have a desire to keep in contact with their previous partner but must keep self-control, knowing that old feelings may resurface and cause further issues. “Ant Pile” takes a more light-hearted approach to speaking about love. Dominic details a young and naive high school love. “7 Hours” presents a situation where Dominic is putting in more work than his partner. This causes him to ask, “Could you treat me like I'm worth it?.” In “What Kinda Woman,” he painfully reflects on the emptiness he feels from a past relationship, asking, “What kind of woman makes it harder, For everybody she loves?”. He finds himself baffled by her actions, left with many unanswered questions.


Even though he tackles heavy subjects in many songs, throughout the album, he sprinkles in positive messages, boasting full of hope. Most notably, in “Dancing on the Courthouse,” Dominic repeats, “We make the love that keeps our world spinnin’,” proving that no matter what he goes through, he will always be a beacon of light, spreading as much love as he possibly can. Dominic’s dynamic exploration of the subject matter on this album earns him an 8/10 on the Intersect Rating Scale in terms of lyrics.

ART BEHIND THE ALBUM

Although much meaning can be found in Dominic’s work, he recently stated in an interview with Zane Lowe that when creating, he has no specific emotional meaning in mind. He simply lets his mind wander when creating, and if personal things slip in, so be it. Dominic is learning how to be more light-hearted in this stage of his career, as he has finally overcome many issues relating to family and romantic relationships. It has been fascinating to watch him grow ever since the “Don't Forget About Me, Demos.” He earns a 7/10 on the Intersect Rating Scale for his art.


Overall, Dominic Fike earns an 8/10 on the Intersect Rating Scale for his stellar sophomore album “Sunburn.”


Stream this album below.




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