If the album title leads you to believe that this is some intellectual comment on modernist art through music, you couldn’t possibly be farther from the truth. Rather than “dada” as in “modernist art form exploring the borders between subjectivity and objectivity” this is “dada” as in “nana nana, hey-hey hey, dada dada” – which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your personal preferences.
Aaron Berkson, leader of New York’s The Flow, is certainly not afraid of flaunting his pop sensibilities, and at times, his sing-along anthems are rather effective. The selling point here is the sporadic use of turntables, and while Berkson isn’t exactly the first person to ever think of combining unabashed pop music with scratching – as the press release seems to suggest – it nevertheless does the trick for a couple of the tracks here. Particularly so for “Dada Dada”, an annoyingly catchy little ditty that I haven’t yet decided whether to like or to hate. And on “Doctor Tomorrow,” the Indian-tinged turntablism sounds absolutely brilliant in this pop-for-pop’s-sake setting.
Elsewhere, the strengths of the album are usually to be found in Berkson’s ability – and willingness! – to sound like everybody else without actually ripping them off. His understanding of both the flow (aha!) and the dynamics of classic pop music is precise and actually rather clever. For evidence, listen to the brilliant power-pop ballad “Boy” or the quietly swaggering “Grey” (on which he sounds like, of all people, Tommy Shaw). There are enough of those songs on here to make this a promising effort, at the very least.
On the weaker side, there is “Written All Over”, which sounds like Spin Doctors on a particularly bad day – and that is saying a lot. In fact, there is quite a lot here that should remind you of the “Horde” bands of the early 1990s – those rootsy, Dead-influenced, yet always über-pop acts that stood in such sharp contrast to the Nirvanas and the Pearl Jams of their time. Not necessarily a bad thing, but, let’s face it, not necessarily a good thing either.
A bit uneven, then, The Flow has the potential of becoming a more than decent radio band, and for those who like their music to be easy and outgoing, at least half of this album is worth a listen.
The Flow: http://www.theflowband.com