Pigeon-holing a band like Dope Oüt is counter-productive, if only for the reason that there’s so much going on the music, you’re bound to forget one or two of the influences. Instead, if you label them as “modern rock”, chances are you’re going to have a rough idea of what they sound like.
With hints of punk, grunge and metal, the French outfit set their sights on fusing them together to appeal to the hard rock fan. With short, punchy tracks, Scars & Stripes acts as a perfect introduction to the band. There’s some great radio-friendly tracks with “The Freakshow” and “Lady Misfits”, the latter dripping with melody in the verses and a massive chorus. It’s even got one of those covers which catches your eye and makes you think “Ooh, this band mean business”.
Gritty and bristling with attitude, it’s rock with balls: something which is far too uncommon these days. Chunky riffs on tracks like “Shooting Gun” and the title track let the band show off their influences without losing their own identity. Taking their cue from some of the biggest modern names, they’ve shaped their sound to stand alongside the present day’s behemoths.
While the album may veer off into corners, they manage to tie it altogether with a core sound. With forays into Stone Temple Pilot-esque sounds alongside Papa Roach, the valley between the pair of those bands is rather deep. However, their squealing and crunching riffs keeps everything in one cohesive package. It allows for an album that can remain varied and keep you on your toes but at no point do you question the band’s identity.
They even manage to drop things half a dozen gears from their no-nonsense hard rock to close the album with the acoustic “Soulmate”. It builds to an amazing crescendo and you expect it to be the breather on the album before the band dig deep into the reserves and go out guns blazing on a final track. So when it stops and you’re prompted to play the album again, it can be a jarring experience but breaks from the norm that you’d expect on albums like this.
The quality of Scars & Stripes is evident from its running time. It’s one of those albums that are finished in the blink of an eye, no track crossing the five-minute mark and more importantly: nothing overstays its welcome.
While it may sound pretentious to say Dope Oüt sound like Dope Oüt, it’s for all the right reasons. Instead of taking their influences and setting their sights on fitting in with them, they’ve blended them to make something which may be recognisable but they make it sound original. By taking different modern influences and putting their own spin on it, they can proudly show their heritage but at the same time, their own take on a modern sound is vastly different from much of today’s modern rock. And in a world where it’s the same three or four usual suspects (rightly or wrongly), they stick out for all the right reasons.
Scars & Stripes is released on 3rd March