SunPop Music · October 13, 2017
[three_fourth]If the address 115 Gainsborough sounds familiar to you, you’re probably a Northeastern student. Dylan Rockoff, the artist behind the album with the same name, also falls into that category. Fresh off of a series of shows, including an opening performance for none other than Bon Jovi in the legendary Madison Square Garden, Rockoff proves he knows how to use everything he learned at Northeastern and more on his debut full-length.
The majority of the album conjures up an image of a sly smirk; Rockoff carefully employs dissonant chords at the end of multiple choruses that entice the listener into the next verse. Coupled with beguiling lyrics, especially those of the album opener “Come Over,” Rockoff casts a spell over the listeners that will keep them listening to his album over and over again. He also bends the genre of rock to give it more of a groovy, bluesy, western movie vibe, and maintains a poised, relaxed composure in the tone of his voice— imagine Jason Mraz covering The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.”
The third song on the album “I Made a Mess Here (22 Symphony)” slows things down a bit by drawing the focus away from the funky sound of a full band to the quiet of an acoustic guitar. The placement in the album’s order for this song could not have been better; situated after two down-n’-dirty jams and before the band comes back into play, the track reminds the listeners of how personal this music really is. While it would be nice to hear more variety in the album overall, the contrast of instrumentation in some songs such as this one definitely keeps things interesting.
The lyrical content of the album is something that I’m sure many listeners can relate to, especially those of the same age as Rockoff, who have gone through similar experiences. He explores the light and dark side of multiple themes, and this juxtaposition provides a glimpse into how he has dealt with the struggles that ensue when these themes come into conflict with one another. For example, “The Greenest Leaf” embodies Rockoff’s determination to be great and have a successful life, but it comes right after “Paranoid” which expresses his skepticism of how he’d be able to accomplish his goals when it seems like the world is out to hold him back. “Come Over” and “Say My Name” describe the thrill and joy of relationships, but “I Made a Mess Here” explores the flip side of that in how they don’t always work out the way you want them to. The concepts are fitting for a person at Rockoff’s point in life—still not really sure of what he wants or where he’s going, but he’s getting there.
The quality of this album that stands out to me the most is its emotional intimacy. 115 Gainsborough isn’t just an album name, it’s the place where most of these songs were inspired (as mentioned on Rockoff’s Facebook page). It is obvious that he put a lot of introspection into writing this album, and it will be interesting to see how his lyrics and themes develop over time.
Listen to 115 Gainsborough here: