New Dialogue's Facebook bio states that the Los Angeles-based quintet "speaks for the moment", and with their band name they "assume an important responsibility" -- bold claims from a band who only recently released their debut EP, but it shows that there is no shortage of confidence or ambition among the band members. Ela Kitapci and Taylor Morrow share vocals in the band, while Jason Rodriguez is on drums, Michael Sevilla is on guitar, and Jeff Badagliacca is on bass. Kitapci befriended Morrow shortly after she moved to Los Angeles, with the rest of the band's line-up variously coming together by meeting at summer jobs, while studying and through internet postings.
Their new EP, Teach Me How to Feel, is out on RED Music and was recorded with producer Charlie Park at the helm and, similarly to their label mates Lovelytheband, who Park has also worked with, New Dialogue's sound is polished and punchy, with lyrics that sometimes veer into emo territory, belying the songs' brisk, poppy melodies. At points the EP soars with anthemic attempts reminiscent of Imagine Dragons, with every song adopting a radio-friendly, poppy sound that's occasionally roughed-up with splashes of electric guitar.
The EP bursts to life with the brazen, blaring pop of "Are You Like Me?", sounding like the type of song Selena Gomez would record, but with a less defined direction. The catchy track bounds through its three minutes, but it doesn't offer anything unique or different to other mainstream indie-pop bands that can be heard nearly constantly on the radio. A jolt of fuzzy electric guitar is carefully placed before the middle eighth, hinting at a greater degree of creativity from the band, but their sound seems constrained at every turn.
"Fake Smile" centres on a dissolving relationship and trying to maintain a connection, no matter how insincere it might be. Kitapci's vocals take the lead among the track's weighty synths, as she sings, "Yeah, I'd even take a fake smile" as though she's calling out to someone across a crevasse, desperate for any form of communication. The song is a clear cut pop song, expertly polished with some violins added in to shake up the sound, but there's nothing here that can be pinpointed as being unique to New Dialogue.
There's no doubt that the band has more to offer -- the rush of "Loose Ends" sees Morrow's vocals come to the fore and it's clearly an anthemic effort by the band. The brooding noir pop of "Neon Ocean", which was written in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election and bristles with disillusionment, sees Kitapci and Morrow's vocals meld perfectly and powerfully, with the verses swaying before the chorus lurches forward with vigour, commanding your attention.
A band's debut EP is meant to serve as a taster of what they can offer, and while Teach Me How to Feel sometimes sounds like it's trying a little bit too hard to please, there are still promising moments on the EP. The band's ambition shines through in their songs, full of catchy hooks and syrupy lyrics that are made to be heard in arenas and on radio stations, but it creates a dilemma for the listener -- you can hear where it is that they want to be in the future, but not who or what they are right now, or what makes them different from the rest.
5.0 / 10
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