Brett Domino Brings Beats and Laughter on ‘Funk’
Part of what makes funk musicians successful is the juxtaposition between being absolute experts at their craft and also not taking themselves too seriously. Some of the genre’s most notable forefathers – musicians like James Brown and George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic – have unquestionable chops when it comes to their work but they also have larger than life, quirky personalities to match. The proper dose of funk includes equal parts skills, stage presence, and humor. While the Leeds-based musician Brett Domino may not be a household name in the funk world, his explosive new album simply titled Funk will make the case that Domino and his “trio” with Steven Peavis have the skills and sense of humor to engage many fans of the genre.
Domino has gained notoriety online with his music and videos, and Funk has an undeniably processed sound, albeit with a clearly human touch. It’s evident from listening that the 14 songs were constructed piece by piece as opposed to performed live, but it’s also evident that the songs were built with care and an exceptional level of competency. Even though many of them border on the line of parody, the execution of production and delivery keeps the beats pumping and the ears satisfied throughout.
The opening track “All Rhetoric” is as much an introduction to Domino’s sound as it is a straight up party banger. The song shows off Domino’s skills not only in musicianship and wit, but also in concise, catchy songwriting. He effectively sums up his music with the lyrics, “We got the funk and the funk is unstoppable/ if you think you can stop it, I’d say no, it’s impossible/ it’s at least improbable, funk, it’s a phenomenon/ yeah it’s a slumber party be sure to put your pajamas on.” The bombastic production and almost conversational lyrics on “All Rhetoric” are techniques Domino uses throughout the album.
Although Domino’s sense of humor shows its influence all over Funk, there are a few songs in particular that lean into the comedy and satire. There’s “Fake Friends,” where Domino describes his partying prowess before abruptly declaring that, “Tonight I’m like, no, I don’t want to tear sh*t up/ no, I don’t want to get f*cked up/ all I really want to do is stay home with my fake friends.” With “Fake Friends” and others, Domino seems to poke fun at club culture and modern society’s general superficiality. On “Douche,” for example, he describes girls’ misplaced desires. He writes, “You’re not my type, you’re too introverted, you don’t stand out in a crowd/ you’re not my type, you’re too unassertive/ I like my guys to be loud… she just wants a douche,” after which he goes on to try to prove to the woman in the story that he can be sexy without being callous.
The arguable centerpiece of Funk is the song “(In a) Funk,” in which Domino opts for a bombastic instrumental hook as the defining feature of the track. He writes of pining after a prospective partner who appears uninterested. In the most telling line, he sings, “we got something but I don’t know if you see it/ I think you do but maybe don’t want to believe it/ Look me in the eye and just take the jump/ ‘cause right now, girl, you got me all up in a funk.” Even though the lyrics seem somewhat bleak, the bouncy instrumental hook and overall feel to the song give it a definite sense of optimism and fun.
While it may have been an overstatement to mention George Clinton and James Brown in reference to Brett Domino, it’s clear that Domino has tapped into a sensibility that effectively pairs expert musicianship with eccentric humor. That combination has produced an album in Funk that adequately portrays Domino’s voice, both musically and emotionally, in ways that will certainly make people dance and laugh for years to come.
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