Release Date: Mar 8, 2019
Record label: Secretly Canadian
When these lines are uttered within the first few seconds of Stella Donnelly 's Beware of the Dogs, you know you're in for a treat. From opening track "Old Man", Donnelly comes out all guns blazing, saying what so many of us wish we had the guts to say to older men who cross boundaries. She's not saying anything new, but she doesn't need to. Women need to say these things and men need to hear them.
After causing a stir with her debut EP, the magnificently titled Thrush Metal, the much-lauded Australian singer/songwriter rocks up with her debut full-length, with only one song (more on that later) making the transition from said EP to debut proper. Structured almost as a series of missives, Donnelly's writing tends to focus on the external-often these songs tend to be built on salient observations about various obnoxious men she encounters-yet she always brings it back to the personal, deftly knotting herself and the listener into the narrative with a smooth shift of perspective. Donnelly's lyrics are amusing-"I'd like to bring you cake back home from work but you're allergic" she notes on the sparse, delightful "Mosquito"-but they often serve as a sugar-pill to more easily swallow the acerbic, yet sometimes equally hilarious lines found elsewhere.
Perth's Stella Donnelly surfaced a couple of years ago with her EP Thrush Metal, a collection of singing-and-guitar songs that introduced a new voice that was fearless in its honesty about everything she saw and experienced in her life. The most notable of these was the incendiary 'Boys Will Be Boys', a song that just about preceded the #MeToo movement, but was pretty much the whole thing wrapped up into 4 startlingly bold minutes of uncensored reportage on "accepted" aggressive male behaviour she saw around her. To hear such a brave statement from a previously unknown voice was undeniably impressive, sending her name around the world in a shock wave that caught the attention of many - including Secretly Canadian who signed her for the re-release of Thrush Metal and her first full-length, Beware of the Dogs.
sit. paw. lie down. roll over. don't touch me without consent. GOOD BOY A letter of indignation: You (or 'we', maybe; it changes) are missing the point even though she's making it so, so difficult for you to do so. You're picking and choosing -- taking words out of the box they came in and wearing ….
Enthralling and hugely relevant, the Australian singer-songwriter's debut album tackles difficult subject matter with cheekiness and real lightness of touch In 2017 Stella Donnelly released the explosive 'Boys Will Be Boys', a powerful attack on victim blaming. Over trilling, stripped-back acoustics, Donnelly's outstanding lyrics pointedly take down rape apology: “They said, ‘Boys will be boys’ / Deaf to the word, ‘No’. " The rest of the Australian singer-songwriter’s debut EP 'Thrush Metal' followed suit: gleaming indie-pop songs that boast immensely vital lyrics that float over delicate, dancing guitar lines (all recorded on “a crappy $100 guitar”, she’s said).
If you've debated that indie rock has finally met its demise, then look no further than to Australia. From the country's countless rising performers, Stella Donnelly may be one of the fiercest and most audacious. The Perth singer-songwriter dismisses the male-dominated rock pantheon as a fad, targeting at the ones who defend its misogynist traditions.
It's no accident that slap bang in the middle of 'Beware of the Dogs', the immense debut album from Aussie songwriter Stella Donnelly, sits 'Boys Will Be Boys', a four-minute diatribe which lambasts those who shame victims of sexual assault over a stripped-back guitar melody. It's a simmering and impassioned mission statement that has been a centrepiece of Stella's repertoire for a few years, showcasing her euphoric vocal skills and her ability to write succinct, compelling lyrics that reflect her own experiences as well as the zeitgeist. On 'Beware of the Dogs' it takes centre stage, a monument to the fact that Stella Donnelly takes no prisoners.
The Lowdown: Stella Donnelly is a virtual newcomer to the musical scene, but Beware of the Dogs, a glimmering yet no-frills portrait of the political and personal realities and shortcomings of average life, makes one wonder where we ever were without her. She kicks off with an energetic push into the action with "Old Man", before pulling back into the threads of something a little less pop, a little more indie, which guide the rest of the album. It's a quick odyssey into a world Donnelly clearly knows well, from the delightfully acerbic family tensions in the lyrics of "Season's Greetings" to the pinnacled mourning of "Boys Will Be Boys".
Stella Donnelly arrived on American shores with a message that cut through a noisy indie-rock landscape. In the U.S., the Perth-based songwriter's debut was "Boys Will Be Boys," a commanding song about rape culture that landed in the fall of 2017, just as #MeToo crescendoed. In that moment, Donnelly's indictment of victim-blamers echoed the sentiment of the thousands of women called upon to publicly excavate their trauma.
Upon first listen, 'Beware Of The Dogs' immerses you in a folksy saccharine daydream, but once the candy-hued mist lifts and you scratch beneath the surface, a far more unsettling tale ensues. It's safe to say that Stella Donnelly is far from shy when it comes to calling out the wrongdoers in the world. The themes weaving themselves through her debut album range from personal qualms, such as relationship woes, to wider societal issues like rape culture and toxic masculinity.