Dissecting a record by the influences it exudes can entertain and ensnare the imagination. It's probably one of the biggest reasons music fans stay music fans. An artist's credibility can often be earned or trashed through his or her list of influences. But what an artist does to filter the stuff he or she heard during their 20 odd years in existence into a distinct voice is when the work soars. Unfortunately, the Dimes have not represented their distinct voice on their latest release, "The Silent Generation," and the record remains firmly land locked.
Clocking in just under 40 minutes, The Dimes' musical influences pop into your mind like a Family Guy clip show. There are Beach Boys harmonies (used most effectively on "New York 1930"), pop storytelling like Fountains of Wayne, and an opening track containing enough whimsy that you've got to assume it was recorded after a screening of Wes Anderson movies. These are all fine launching-off points, but the Dimes don't do much with these influences beyond simply implementing them. It's great to use that kind of low-fi guitar synonymous with contemporary "adult pop," but what of it? The influences aren't internalized or put through the Dimes' personal filter to create something that doesn't sound like a collection of Shins B-Sides. These aren't bad songs. There's nothing really wrong with them, but there's nothing distinct about them either. There's nothing personally at stake. They feel like they were selected more than written.
What's missing from Silent is that one moment on any great album where the band's voice--coming from the chemistry shared between that distinct group of people--grabs the listener by the hand to declare its place in the world. The Dimes are skilled musicians and songwriters who will certainly discover their voice, and when they do it will be wonderful to hear. It's too bad we'll have to wait a little longer.