There are beautiful, frozen moments of time that set unsurpassable standards for our futures. Do you miss yours? As I’ve grown, I’ve observed these golden moments become fewer and farther between, as we worship our context until it ultimately overshadows anything that comes next. The Dangerous Summer reflects on nostalgia—longing for people, places and experiences from the past, in the way they existed back then.

Nearly every song on this record echoes this sentiment: such as when lead singer AJ Perdomo longs for his life at seventeen in When I Come Home, singing, “I miss the ordinary love, I miss the come ups and lucid dreams.” Or in the lead single, Fire, where Perdomo wishes “… every person that I knew was in one room right now; we’d drink until we die.” Now, with Perdomo as a young father and the band free from former guitarist Cody Payne’s toxic antics, it’s clear the Dangerous Summer has grown up along with us.

This new-found maturity is also present in Perdomo’s songwriting. While previous fans of The Dangerous Summer can still expect their signature reverb and delay trail-laden guitars, the band employs a sensible restraint that allows the songs to breathe and no musical idea to become buried in the mix. Consequently, when they unleash their ethereal leads, it’s stunning. The concluding track, Infinite, is perhaps the best example of this effect, as it builds to a climax that inspires chills. It’s a testament to the fantastic production and songwriting the band has achieved with this record.

Admittedly, this record is not The Dangerous Summer’s catchiest release, but I believe this is by design. The hooks are just substantial enough to be among the bands best when coupled with Perdomo’s gut-wrenching vocal delivery and flowing cadences. Simple earworms aren’t the goal here: it’s eliciting emotion, and in this way, the hooks are beautiful. The approach is risky, but results in rewarding payoffs evident in the beginning and ending sections of the album; however, the middle lulls in comparison. It’s not that these songs are bad—it’s that in contrast to the heights this album reaches, tracks like Luna and Wild Again don’t hold up as well.

Ironically, while Perdomo fights to preserve his connection to the past by living in the moment for as long as they will sustain him, The Dangerous Summer has the power to draw the listener into the exact state for which he yearns. Embrace it. Call it a comeback; The Dangerous Summer is here again with an early contender for album of the year. It’s worth obsessing over.

Written by Riley Witiw