Release Date: Oct 8, 2012
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
So powerfully do Nottingham's Dog Is Dead evoke early adulthood, they even appeared in an episode of Skins, singing Glockenspiel Song, which features on this debut album and goes: "We are a mess, we are failures and we love it!" They've been together since school and singer Robert Milton doesn't sound a million miles from Noah and the Whale or Bombay Bicycle Club, his flamboyant voice laced with a sulky, sixth-former crackle. The real surprise comes in their broad musical vision, which is more like Vampire Weekend's, with snaky jazz bass-lines (Get Low), highlife guitar (Do the Right Thing), nifty art-rock twists and 80s sax courtesy of Lawrence "Trev" Cole. Lyrics may operate in a relatively small sphere – breaking up, getting back together, talking through the night – but these are solid gold indie pop songs ornamented with real precision and flair.
It'd be easy to dismiss Nottingham's Dog Is Dead as peddlers of montage music, not least because their anthemic guitar pop has already been snapped up by Sky Sports. But though they're sometimes guilty of plotting the shortest route to the biggest chorus, it hardly matters when the results are as hooky and melodic as this. Reference points include Vampire Weekend and former tour mates Bombay Bicycle Club, particularly on the offbeat shuffle of Do the Right Thing and the low-slung groove of Get Low, but indie tricksiness isn't the point here: these are punchy pop songs with immediate, uncomplicated appeal.
Dog Is Dead have laid the youthful anthems of their previous EPs aside to make way for polished, stadium-sized choruses that retain their knack for brilliant harmonies and great melodies on their debut All Our Favourite Stories. Their unashamedly pop-influenced hooks are both ambitious and infectious, and deserved of the slick production that has been lavished on the Nottingham-based five-piece’s first full-length release. Lead singer Rob Milton's flamboyant vocal delivery doesn’t stray far from the warm tones of Noah & the Whale frontman Charlie Fink's gentle baritone or the measured control of Alt-J's Joe Newman, but set alongside the harmonies that have become a staple of their sound, Milton leads the band through anthemic chorus after anthemic chorus.
With their affected vocal harmonies, awkwardly angled guitar play and a penchant for schmaltzy saxophone solos, there was an endearingly goofy charm to Dog Is Dead upon their 2008 arrival. But the Nottingham five-piece have been given a major-label reboot for their debut LP, and the rough edges that gave them their early oddball indie pop character have been sanded off in favour of earnest but uninspiring anthemic rock. Zesty older tracks like ‘Glockenspiel Song’ are buried beneath common-denominator stadium yawns such as ‘Heal It’, while even the once-punchy ‘River Jordan’ has been refined for the BBC montages they’re now being sculpted for.Simon Jay Catling .
The Nottingham quintet’s debut offers little to stand out in a crowded nu-folk market. Alex Denney 2012 Grafting nu-folk whimsy onto the grand-scale emoting of Arcade Fire is big business in 2012, from the multi-million selling antics of Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale to advertisers using earnest, homespun ditties to flog everything from mobile phones to life insurance. Latest to step into this crowded marketplace are Nottingham youngsters Dog Is Dead.