Premiere: Doll Baby Radiate Dynamic Punk Force On New LP, Heirloom

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Is there a tangible distinction between nihilism and escapism in today’s landscape? It’s undeniable that much of contemporary society gravitates towards some form of disconnection–finding solace in meditation to alleviate stress, unwinding through comforting television shows, or running through the pressure while accompanied solely by your favorite playlist. This prevalent inclination towards detachment renders engagement almost archaic. Even seemingly innocent concepts like “no-screen weekends” contribute to this trend, rejecting ingrained aspects of modern life in pursuit of what is perceived as “authentic” experiences and connections, whatever they may entail. This glorification of detachment subtly suggests that life is predominantly a cycle of burdensome stress—an indispensable yet ultimately meaningless facet of our well-being that paradoxically governs our world. Could this inclination not, once again, be interpreted as a manifestation of nihilism? Ultimately, does it really matter? Is that not nihilism too? Damn you, vicious circularity.

This certainly isn’t the outcome Yevgeny Bazarov envisioned in “Fathers and Sons,” but it’s the reality we’re confronted with. Nevertheless, it’s imperative to navigate this predicament with resilience and persistence, two things never in short supply from a great punk rock album. For Richmond’s own Doll Baby, that spirit takes the form of thrilling defiance and sneering mettle on their new full-length record, Heirloom. Featuring eleven dynamic tracks, this collection serves as a symphony of disillusionment, ranging from rapid-fire rebuttals to introspective anthems that confront pervasive apathy with razor-sharp clarity. Set to be unleashed on Friday, March 15th, The Auricular is proud to premiere this audacious record with an exclusive stream below, along with an in-depth exploration of its piercing tone.


Doll Baby’s previous releases–2016’s Polliwog and 2017’s Hell Block–stood as formidable entities, even within their concise duration. Heirloom, though, undeniably propels the band to new heights with a truly dynamic sound. From spirited pop-punk to gritty grunge, each track is bound together by an undercurrent of simmering discontent and a longing for liberation. It marks a gratifying evolution for the polished quartet, fulfilling the desires of their loyal fanbase for a cohesive and fully realized album. Additionally, it fills a previously unnoticed void within the realm of devoted punk rock enthusiasts, a fact that becomes immediately apparent with the gripping mantra from “Dose,” the album’s soaring opening track.

Concentrate on the wall,” vocalist Julie Storey urges amidst a tense melody that eclipses the world around, priming listeners for an impending sonic explosion. In a reverse approach akin to combatting a panic attack, Storey’s directive to tune out the surroundings elicits a surge of raw emotion, one that’s both exhilarating and audacious in its implication (“Don’t think about the man in the cemetary\ Don’t think the days or the thoughts that carry\ Don’t think about you leaving your friends or your flaws\ Concentrate on the wall“). Right from the start, a battle between escapism and nihilism unfolds, only quelled by a looming eruption of resentment that will drown out both in a stirring sea of sound.

On Heirloom, escapism takes on various guises, evident in the meditative trance of “Dose,” youthful whimsy captured in “Treetops” (“And though the sheets are a mess, I’ll still grow up to be a ghost“), and even the carefree sedation depicted in “Valley Showroom” (“The last straw, underneath the parking lot\ A show of hands, who needs to medicate?”. These sentiments permeate the highs and lows of the album’s sound, filling the valleys with dissonant dirges while adorning the sharp peaks with bursting sprints.

Shrouded behind a focal point of disillusionment, the album’s authentic resonance emerges forcefully when nihilism is embraced—whether by deliberate choice or as an inevitable culmination of a lifetime’s worth of chagrin. In “Pushover,” the tone takes a sharper edge, condemning forms of relief that ultimately exploit our aspirations (“Did you fall to your knees that night and pray to nothing but the starlit sky? Will you sleep better now? Will you know better now? Will you leave it all up to anyhow?”). “New Pollen” sees emptiness effortlessly bubbling forth in response to frustration (“All we do is talk and talk and talk, but never speak. Settle into nothing, a bone just meant to break. Catalog the time we spend and all the time we waste”), while “You’re History” further underscores the hollowness of significance (“And every thought of you, I have now buried underground. When I am gone and you are gone, nobody sees it”).

Throughout all of this, Doll Baby demonstrates an exceptional command of punk aggression that heightens the lyrical intensity. Storey’s vocals maintain a forceful presence, imbued with a hardened empathy that infuses each roar with understanding and each plea with venom. The musical accompaniment mirrors this versatility, with the guitar work from Storey and Eric Kelly adeptly navigating between chaotic and subdued moments. Jake Guralnik on bass and Dan Kelly on drums skillfully maintain control of this pendulum shift, filling the expansive frame with thunderous blasts and also darting beacons.

For the album’s closing track, Doll Baby breathes new life into the opening track from their 2016 release, Polliwog, with the searing epic, “The Great Divide.” Acting as the initial introduction for many listeners to the band’s commanding potential, this anthem remains largely unchanged for those already familiar with it, except for the addition of an unsettling voicemail in the bridge–an anxious plea echoing through the buzzing lines. This addition amplifies a prevailing sense of apprehensive dread initiated by the strumming white noise of the album’s interlude, providing a brief respite between the weighty “Pushover” and the relentless “Abaddon.” Through “The Great Divide,” Doll Baby showcases how this despondency has simmered over almost a decade, erupting to life on the album’s other daring nine tracks while also solidifying itself within this potent moment of harsh acceptance (“So I do nothing, I don’t buy anything, I just work and watch TV. Better living through the great divide”).

Putting aside all of this indifferent philosophy, Heirloom soars easily on the strength of its compelling sound, which fills the spacious spectrum with fervent enthusiasm. Whether the detached lyrical disposition yields any clarity will determine whether the soaring melodies find a serene altitude for gliding or elevate higher into an enduring masterpiece. Nevertheless, it’s unmistakable that the themes laid bare in this record are ones you’ll inevitably encounter in your own life. Here’s hoping you possess the melodic courage to confront them, much like Doll Baby does on Heirloom. It’s undeniably a thrilling journey to experience.

Heirloom is out everywhere on Friday, March 15th. For more news on future releases and concerts, make sure to follow Doll Baby on Instagram, Bandcamp, and Facebook.


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