Describing themselves as the bastard love child of 1990s punk outfit the Offspring and classic rockers Heart, Burlington’s L.Dora recently released their self-titled debut EP. While flawed, the five-song teaser suggests a young band on the rise and offers a glimpse of real potential.
The EP gets off to a suspicious start with “Dizzy.” Lead vocalist Danielle Duby is an energetic front woman. Fiery and forceful, she is certainly engaged, if not particularly engaging. That likely has more to do with the tune’s lackluster, predictable arrangement than the singer’s performance, which is mostly spotless.
“Catch and Release” is next, and trades on that most abundant rock commodity, the breakup song. While it certainly doesn’t lack for emotional intensity, the song suffers under the weight of overly straightforward and often clumsy wordplay. “I’m moving out of this place, I’m sick and tired of seeing your face. / Well, you can fuck who you want, and I know you won’t stop, until you screw everyone,” sings a jilted Duby. In a related story, it seems there is a sex-crazed Lothario on the loose in the Queen City. Mothers, lock up your daughters.
Critical snark aside, Duby’s heavy-handedness sullies what is an otherwise compelling tune. The singer’s melody is catchy, her vocal performance among the best of the EP’s five songs, as she does a passable job of channeling Heart’s Nancy Wilson. But a lack of artfulness casts a pall over the song.
That failing is all the more frustrating in light of the following song, EP centerpiece “Broken Strings.” Over scorching lead guitar and behind a riotous, rocking arrangement, Duby unleashes vocal fury. The singer’s wordplay is again straightforward, but tactful this time. Simplicity can be a valuable asset in rock, and here Duby employs a light, dexterous touch. Instead of laying out her pain in paint-by-numbers clichés, the singer leaves room for interpretation, which allows listeners to commiserate and connect in their own ways. A well-conceived and executed rock song, it confirms the band’s nascent skills.
“Hopeless Embrace” invites lighter-hoisting power-rock balladry, but Duby again falls victim to ham-fisted sentiment. Where her vocal chops somewhat helped elevate earlier songs above rock ’n’ roll schmaltz, here she stumbles with a delivery marred by frequent and painful pitch failings.
Appropriately enough, “End” puts the finishing touch on the EP and, like “Broken Strings,” suggests the band is capable of much more. This is a talented local rock band with room to grow. If they can rein in the tendency to cop obvious rock archetypes, L.Dora could grow into one of the region’s more solid acts. Here’s hoping they do just that.
L.Dora play the monthly First Friday showcase at the Higher Ground Ballroom this week, with DJs Precious and Llu.