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20 January 2010

Blank Dogs - 'On Two Sides' (Troubleman Unlimited)

The cover art to this feels a tad silly now, as the identity of Blank Dogs was shrouded in mystery at the time of release -- though now, it no longer is, so an opportunity for a cool album cover was squandered by putting a photo of a dude with a blanket over his head. But at least it's designed nicely, just like the bumpy post-punk-influence pop ditties here. These "bedroom punk" tunes are probably quick to record and he sure pumps them out on this (and other) releases, but they're really solid here. 'Ants' kicks things off with the formula that works, unchanged, across 12 songs. Canned drums, cheap synth icing, repetitive simple melodies, jangly guitar notes around the edges and some killer guitar crunch when the time is right. Vocally it's moaning, affected, distorted, and weirdly catchy. 'Blaring Speeches', 'Calico Hands' and 'The Lines' are particularly strong, and when you've listened to this a few times they all start to blend together into a mishmash of hooks. I don't find myself singing along as much as I tap/bash my fingers on the desk when listening. But maybe that's cause I have to strain to understand the lyrics, which is more effort than I'm willing to put in. Could 'Pieces' be the pinnacle of office punk, perhaps? Though the obvious comparisons are early 80s mileau like Magazine, early Cure, New Order/Factory stuff, etc -- I actually hear a bit of 90's indie rock in 'Three Window Room', the closing track. For some reason this unfolds like a classic Magnetic Fields track to me, maybe just in the way the chords move. I admit I haven't kept up with the slew of output to follow this but at some point I could see myself needing more.

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