Dominic Fike first burst into the scene as a BROCKHAMPTON affiliate. He was very much living in the same DIY world that the boy band had been. His introduction came shortly after the sleeper hit “3 Nights.” The song was a breezy single that proved both overall musical skill and a knack for catchy songwriting. Since then, it’s been all uphill. He’s had Coachella performances, an official placement on a Paul McCartney album, and most notably, a starring role in the HBO series Euphoria. Those peripheral successes, big as they may be, make it sometimes easy to forget that Dominic Fike is first and foremost a songwriter—something he’s aiming to address on his second album, Sunburn.
Strong First Impressions for Fike on Sunburn
“How Much Is Weed?”, the opener, is an appropriate choice for that slot. It’s a fitting mission statement on what Sunburn as a whole accomplishes, and it nods to earlier Dominic Fike releases. Unmissable is the change-up in style & aesthetics, caked in mid-2000s punk and indie. That manifests in the mix—the singer’s vocals are muddy and muted, and, of course, in the instrumental, where hazy guitars and tinny drums set the pace.
We also see Fike’s willingness to jump from rapping to singing, often even blurring the lines between the two. In the song, he sings in his best emo indie icon voice. “My b**** she bad, dawg, it’s all in my head / Mama told me, ‘don’t be shy,’ Seno said ‘Let’s get this.'” At the risk of belaboring the point, there’s one last crucial indicator with this track. That indicator is its bite-sized length. His debut EP was titled Don’t Forget About Me, Demos. That same bend towards loosely structured jams continues on his debut album.
A Bit of Ranginess From the Singer
From there we get “Antpile,” which could easily double as a Beck impression circa Mellow Gold. Reminiscing about adolescent era moments and minutia, Dominic Fike seems very much “in on the joke” here. He strains almost knowingly as he delivers one of the opening couplets. “Back then you knew I always liked you / We went to high school.” The embrace of early aughts and 90s aesthetics gets an official cosign on “Think Fast,” where Weezer appears in a guest spot. While the first two tracks were frenetic in their energy, this one steps into melodrama. His vocals stretch, bend, and crawl over sparse instrumentation in the early going. Once again, he swaps to rapping around the midpoint before Rivers Cuomo takes the mic to close this one out.
Overall, Sunburn delivers on the promise made in its title. It contains a medley of sun-bleached, jaunty songs that narratively focus on the singer’s summer days. Many are centered around romances, with Fike frequently citing partners who either helped keep him sane or otherwise got caught up in his mix. Most of this makes for a pretty torrid pace. However, moments like “4×4” and “Mama’s Boy” are important as heartfelt sequence breakers, where he addresses someone from his past and, of course, his mother, respectively.
Finally, if this is your introduction to Dominic Fike, or if you knew him through Euphoria, there are absolutely some accessible cuts here to serve as a starting point. “Mona Lisa” likely will see the most chart success, with its easily understood pop structure and dancey background. And “7 Hours” is a laidback jam that plays into those same pop sensibilities that his smash “3 Nights” tapped into.
Still only a few years into his music career, Dominic Fike has plenty of time to figure out what his sound really is. But Sunburn goes a long way to elucidate what he can do, and the retro aesthetics he steps into on Sunburn sound like a fitting home as any for the singer.