Dent May Public Assembly, Brooklyn, NY, October 19
Published Oct 22, 2012Dent May is best known as a ukulele troubadour, which is precisely why Do Things was so surprising. Here, backed by a full band, May experimented with sun-kissed pop, specks of restrained psychedelia and tasteful, light electronics. And on record, he pulled it off with carefree style; songs like "Fun," "Rent Money" and "Find It" were a testament to May's newfound diversity — even if his swooning vocals still took centre stage.
That, of course, set high expectations for his Public Assembly set at CMJ. Yet Do Things' songs felt markedly less inspired in a live setting, as May's vocal harmonies, always the band's highlight, felt tired. The band's subtle melodies — which, on record, come across as tactful — blended into each other, lending the entire set an amorphous quality.
But the set's weakest points came during its dance-y moments, on songs like "Wedding Day" and "Best Friend." In recording, these felt like whimsical forays into disco; live, they were like the type of tired, four-on-the-floor indie pop we'd left back in 2005.
May's set earns a passing grade because didn't offend, but unfortunately, it did little to stand out.