Album Review: Ryan Dahle “Irrational Anthems”

Band: Ryan Dahle

Album: Irrational Anthems

Label: Sandbag Records

Rating: 3 out of 5

By Aaron Binder

Originally Published in Fazer Magazine

If Duncan Sheik ever found the need to move north into the wilds of Canada, he might as well nix that idea from its inception; we already have the entrancing Ryan Dahle to fill his soft alternative rock shoes.  Starting out in the early 90’s with Canadian rockers Age of Electric, Dahle was lauded for pumping out a string of hit songs during the mid-90s with AoE and his side-project Limblifter.  Recently, Ryan has been working with Hot Hot Heat, Manvil and a few other bands as a producer, espousing his wide ranging knowledge upon these younger bands.

Outside of Producing, Ryan has a self-titled solo-project; his latest offering is Irrational Anthems, an album that has some beautiful passages and a nice Sunday afternoon feel to the disc.  Unfortunately, that’s about as far as it goes in the grand scheme of this offering.  Ryan Dahle is well known for his production work; it’s crisp and professional; however, in the case of his solo project, it comes off sounding too overproduced.

The production on Irrational Anthems is, of course, impeccable, showcasing Ryan’s skills in that area, but perhaps weakening the rest of the album by focusing on those aspects a little too much.  This causes the album to sound flawlessly polished; any raw elements that may have tried to slip in would have found themselves slipping right out on the first edit.

The songs themselves have interesting elements built into them, synth, strings, horn sections, but it all seems homogenized as over-organized, even in the sparsely sprinkled frenetic segments.  Individually, the songs play out rather well, almost any one of these songs could be in regular rotation on any soft rock station.  Put together though, there just isn’t enough difference between the songs to make a full-length album interesting enough to sit through more than a few times.

The album lacks balls, Ryan’s voice hides behind a mask of tools that unfortunately homogenize the album even further; the songs blend together in a hypnotic way, but the hypnotist ends up bungling his own act.  There is a ton of potential sitting in this veteran of the Canadian Rock scene, but it is being under-utilized.

However, for all of the bland mediocrity on the album, it still remains a pleasurable listen when all you need is some easy listening in the background.  When he finally does break out of the over-produced shell, Ryan Dahle is going to create something legendary.


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