Monday, 15 October 2012

Review: Dog is Dead - All Our Favourite Stories

 I have a memory of our time at T in the Park early on the Sunday morning in which me and my fellow companions were hanging out in a tent pissing around while pissed and looking at the lineup, in the search for a good band to see. At that moment, one individual looked at the page and mockingly stated "We could go and see a lovely band with friendly songs like Dog is Dead!" And so we laughed, safe in the knowledge that a band with suck a harsh name would never get anywhere in the mainstream eye or manage to write any kind of nice song.

 Therefore, it's only natural that the first CD I should find stacked everywhere as I walk in to HMV in Aberdeen this week is All Our Favourite Stories, the debut full length from Nottingham indie pop quintet Dog is Dead filled with all kinds of brief rave reviews regarding the album. And wouldn't you know it's fairly well deserved.

 Like it's various indie pop peers that have also made some fantastic albums this year (And the only group I can think of right now is Of Monsters and Men. My bad.) the band can take themselves through a varying array of emotions and rich tones in their performances but always end things on a high note in a very beautifully heartwarming way. Opener Get Low might not suggest that feelings of joy can be found with the slithering basslines of Lawrence Cole and layered keyboard backdrops creating something rather unnerving.

 However, it's through a journey of different ideas, craft and varying musicianship through each band member that listeners feel a varying emotional output that always provoke some intense response from listeners. There's the subtle swing of Do the Right Thing, that even at it's softest moments should encourage listeners to start swaying with their arms in the air, the sense of shiver and immensity that comes with the performance from frontman Robert Milton on Teenage Daughter which feels like a performance with no barriers between headphones and the listener and that he may as well be singing directly in your ear.

 But making uplifting pop music is a priority within the band and from the sensitivity that can be heard in the performances of Hands Down to the tense backdrops of River Jordan, all songs are eventually tackled with an uplifting grace delivered through colossal choruses and beautiful harmonies, truly the main ingredients to get a stadium of people on their feet.

 If there is one put-down I have to give the album (And I don't really want to because they all seem like cool guys) it's the unavoidably cringeworthy work of true indie pop on Glockenspiel Song, a song so light and quirky, that you can just tell it'll be used in adverts before you know it, just like Frankie & the Heartstrings are now best known for flogging Dominoes Pizza. It's a genuinely good song filled with pure pop euphoria, but one cannot help but listen to it and imagine a voice appearing over the top of it informing us about the new sale at DFS.

But with my uniquely weird complaints aside, All Our Favourite Stories shows a solid craft if songwriting that explains the way that more organically created music with an immersive kind of charm is making a big return to the mainstream forefront. Dog is Dead have the skills needed to pull off simple alt rock songs with big pop-induced hooks and melodies and can go beyond the call of duty, crafting songs for listeners to lose themselves in. And if you can't recognise good songwriting through that, I'm sorry for you. You're probably afraid to approach a band with as harsh a name as Dog is Dead. Yeah what a harsh name! I bet they're a crust punk band or something!

Dog Is Dead's All Our Favourite Stories is out now via Warner Music. The band will tour the UK from October-November with Beans on Toast.

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