The title track, “Dope machines”, is much more harmonious than the previous two tracks, although it is still slightly unsteady in terms of its melody. It seems as if the band had a rough idea of what they wanted to experiment with in terms of synths, but they didn’t know exactly how to turn these brainwaves into sound waves.
Another of these failed experiments is the track “Time to be a man”, which offers more discordant synths that flow into a more pleasant-sounding tune, although its memorable chorus is weakened by inharmonious backing vocals.
One of the album’s highlights is the song “Hell and back”. Its raw,acoustic intro will make fans yearn for the band’s stellar debut album. The song has an almost indie folk atmosphere to it and even though synths are abandoned in the verses, theyblend effectively into the chorus.
Another redeeming track is the ominous “My childish bride”, which starts out eerily and is reminiscent of songs like “Wishing well” from the band’s debut album.It features the sorrowfulvocals and melody that fans of The Airborne Toxic Event have become so used to.
The track “Something you lost” offers a heart-wrenching and beautiful melody, but starts to drag toward the middle. Its constant slow pace runs the risk of losing the listener’s interest.However, those who push through to the end of the song will be rewarded with what is possibly the album’s most beautiful musical moment.
The album’s final song, “Chains”, has received much criticism, and when listening to the verses and the bridge the reasons for fans’ disapproval of the track become evident. The chorus and the spellbinding strings towards the song’s end almost save it from being utterly unpleasant to listen to, but even these enchanting elements are just not enough to drown out the grating vocals and underwhelming lyrics in the verses.
Overall, Dope Machines will likely trigger mixed responses from listeners. While the album does have its redeeming qualities, the band’s experimentation on the album ultimately misses the mark, and perhaps only die-hard fans will be able to look past the album’s let-downs.