"Passwords" is new from Dawes.

"Passwords" is new from Dawes. Credit: Q Prime



BOTTOM LINE Piling the world’s current complexities on the peaceful, easy feeling of ‘70s California rock.

Just because Dawes’ plan for its sixth album, “Passwords” (HUB), is simple doesn’t make accomplishing it easy.

The Los Angeles band is steeped in the sound of the ’70s California — of the Eagles and Neil Young — but the lyrics and singer Taylor Goldsmith’s delivery is completely modern. It’s a juxtaposition that makes Dawes far more interesting than just another retro act, but the lofty ambitions sometimes raise the stakes above their reach.

The idea of opening with a song called “Living in the Future” that so clearly calls to mind Crazy Horse’s past is bold, but then dropping in current references to Colin Kaepernick’s protests and the state of paranoia that comes with online life is nothing short of brilliant. It becomes more than an homage to the era. It transforms that specific sound into something timeless.

Dawes does it again on “Feed the Fire,” which may sound as soothing as America’s “You Can Do Magic,” but actually harbors darker feelings about achieving celebrity status. 

But even when Dawes reaches for something it can’t quite deliver, like the epic plea for empathy “Crack the Case,” the band impresses you with the attempt.

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