A man fumbles anxious fingers against the edges of his notebook paper. He’s nervous, a bit sweaty, and biting his fingernails to stubs. His heart races like he’s just tossed back a few espressos. He’s hopelessly lovestruck. The person he longs to speak to is just across the street, but he has no clue how to approach her. In this futile moment, musicians pour their emotions to the page. Results can be tender, sweet and earnest. Sometimes they’re completely skeezy and creepy. Have you listened to Gary Puckett’s hit? “Young girl, get out of my mind, my love for you is way out of line.” What?
When Donaher created their debut LP I Swear My Love is True, they were at an emotional point of no return. Lyricist Nick Lavallee’s had to make sense of forlorn love with a few power chords. If you turned this album on and thought it was released two decades ago to open a regional tour with Weezer, you would not me ill-mistaken. I Swear swings heavily as an album that could have been recorded between Weezer’s poppy Blue album and the emotion-rollercoaster of Pinkerton. Lavallee howls like an angsty teen idolizing The Smoking Popes. Hyper polished rhythms and smooth harmonies lend themselves to a doowop aesthetic you’d find in Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do.
The album is well done and has a lot of ambition, but waddles in overly tread waters. It’s not as catchy as The Mr. T Experience, or as comical as Nerf Herder—it just sounds safe. It also has its share of creeper lyrics, “Heather is the girl too young for me, my friends say I’m out of touch.” Hopefully that just means he’s in his thirties chatting to a woman in her twenties. To be properly eeked out, read over that Gary Puckett lyric sheet. Blech. If emo pop sophomore albums of the 90s are any indicator, we’ll see where Donaher goes next.