REVIEW: Dopey’s Robe – Who And When Is Stephen Networks?

Release date: October 31, 2017

It’s a fecund period for Dopey’s Robe, with this LP marking the band’s third release this year (alongside a self-titled album and the Rock Steady, New Mexico EP). Impressively, considering the frequency of their releases, the band manages to keep it interesting and experiment with their sound on Who And When Is Stephen Networks?

The new album starts strong with exactly the kind of uptempo surf sound we have come to expect from Dopey’s Robe. While the opener — ‘Jesus Freaks’ — is a good track, the second song — ’21st Century’ — is where things getting interesting.

Diversifying their sound, Dopey’s Robe takes on Britpop influences and merges them with the surf/psych style for which the band is already known. With an almost spoken-word vocal style that recalls icons Blur alongside shimmering, surf-rock guitars, this is one of the band’s best tracks to date.

Other tracks on Who And When Is Stephen Networks?, while enjoyable, contain a similar mixture of head-bopping surf rock and trippy psychedelia to what we’ve heard before from the band. Well executed, for sure, but it would be nice to see more experimentation.

Dopey’s Robe embraces that trippiness most heavily on ‘Rag-Man’ — a track that begins with hazy riffs and builds into an intense experience. With its mystical pronouncements, vaguely Oriental twangs and driving beat, this track is sure to be atmospheric live.

Heading into the second half of the album, ‘Koward Kat’ is a stand-out track. Starting with a meaty riff that immediately had my foot tapping, the rest of the song did not disappoint. Foot tapping led to full on stomping and head-bopping.

Who And When Is Stephen Networks? by Dopey’s Robe is available to stream/buy on Bandcamp. A vinyl release is planned for 2018.

UPDATE: Dopey’s Robe has announced an indefinite hiatus via a post on Facebook, which you can see below.