Friend of Mine
Reviewed by: Ari Roth
DJ Dodger Stadium is Samo Sound Boy, producer and owner of the forward-thinking club label Body High, and Jerome LOL, formerly of the now-departed LOL Boys. They released one EP together, 2011’s Stadium Status, comprised of five raw, no-nonsense drum tracks that drew on early Chicago house for inspiration. Three years later, they have returned with Friend of Mine, a stylistic departure that might just prove to be their loose scene’s breakout moment. The formula at work on Friend of Mine is simple: sampled vocal hooks over looping house grooves, stretched out, mantra-like, into infinity. Tracks generally peak early and vary only slightly throughout, instead zeroing in on a single phrase, a single, unforgettable melody. This melodic element is what positions the album to be the point at which these artists gain a wider audience beyond the often hermetic world of dance music.
Jerome LOL’s past work has always left me somewhat cold, and his avowed pop influences have never quite translated into a great pop song proper. “Love Songs”, however, is exactly that, an instant, insistent earworm of a refrain that takes hold and never lets go. Since it was released as a single a few weeks ago, I’ve found myself singing it constantly around the house and in everyday life. It’s brilliant, and captures the liminal state between transcendent euphoria and heartbroken melancholy perfectly: “Lately I’ve been singing / love songs / by myself.” Sometimes a chorus is all you need.
Second single “Never Win” follows a similar path, with huge, stabbing sheets of harmonies and a title hook reminiscent of Teengirl Fantasy’s 2010 classic “Cheaters”. Even better is “One Who Lost”, a storming track with a syncopated groove and those indelible, emotive vocals. The album is less effective on its instrumental tracks, and songs like “Trouble” feel slightly insubstantial in comparison. Still, some of these make for some of the album’s best moments, particularly the churning, hypnotic, reggae-sampling penultimate track “The Dust”. The acid-flecked, anthemic title track, which closes out the record, brings about a sense of relief and resolution, with sweeping organs and vocal harmonies that spiral into dubbed out infinity at the song’s conclusion.
Despite Body High’s underground pedigree, it isn’t hard to imagine these songs blasting from festival speakers, inciting impromptu mass singalongs and uniting people as the best pop music does. Given the leap made between their debut EP and Friend of Mine, there’s no telling for sure where DJ Dodger Stadium or each of its members will go next, but these songs are cause enough for excitement. Let’s sing love songs by ourselves, together.