I recently picked up Dustin Lovelis’s Been Hit Before at my local record store and it hasn’t left my turntable since. Not because it’s printed in lime green and looks cute as fuck while it’s spinning around, but because its grooves are filled with exactly the right blend of dreamy, psychedelic pop that is just like bubblegum for the ears. Except it doesn’t lose flavor in 30 seconds like that stupid Dubble Bubble bullshit that should be exiled from candy isles immediately. Instead, Been Hit Before remains deliciously sweet and infectiously catchy throughout the entirety of its 37-minute run-time.
Long Beach native, Dustin Lovelis, is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter whose knack for production is just as keen as his playing abilities. On his self-produced sophomore record, Lovelis creates a cohesive sonic landscape in which affected vocal harmonies and warm distortion are the commanding inhabitants — A signature sound attained by siphoning his easily digestible pop melodies through a pool of sun-baked guitar and synth tones.
Been Hit Before seems accurately titled, given its mystifying nostalgic feel. Not necessarily in reference to the vintage 70’s and 80’s influences it draws from, but rather in its ability to make me feel like a kid again. Quite simply, this album sounds like riding around the neighborhood on bikes with your friends, falling down, getting back up, and reconvening at the local pool to cool off on a hot summer day. (Or maybe more like doing all of that stuff as an adult on some mild hallucinogens?)
Much of the album takes place above water, splishing and splashing around to a steady momentum of buoyant rhythms. The lyrical content may say otherwise, but plenty of its songs like “Mystery Boys” and “Either Way” feel uplifting and playful in a way that is tightly structured and straightforward. Moving through the album, you will also land on a few deep cuts where Dustin sinks lower into moments of heavy introspection and sonic exploration. Take “Batons” for example; A dreamlike lullaby that is sung atop airy acoustic guitar and a reverb-soaked arpeggiator that together induce a deep state of meditative hypnosis.
Lovelis ends the record with what is perhaps his most extravagant moment on the whole record. “Benzodreams” is as psychoactive as its name suggests. It is addled with disorienting textures that lurch beneath lyrical descriptions of psychedelic imagery — finally finding clarity when the full band joins in for a grandiose finish. A finale serving as an unsolicited reward of sorts, as if to thank you for listening to the album in its entirety.
An enjoyable ride from start to finish, Lovelis has crafted a quite a wonderful piece of self-proclaimed weirdo pop with Been Hit Before.