Published Aug 02, 2019Slaughter Beach, Dog's third and newest album Safe and Also No Fear is anything but safe; it lacks the upbeat, picnic-in-the-park ambiance that 2017's Birdie projected so seamlessly.
With tracks like "One Day," which is rich with electric guitar riffs and "Tagerine," a track that leans fully into alt-rock, Slaughter Beach, Dog's persona of encapsulating the carefree mundane is complicated. Birdie sounded like flowers in full bloom, whereas Safe and Also No Fear feels more like a capsized ship.
While frontman Jake Ewald (formerly of Modern Baseball) is still dealing with themes of the tragic, mundane and observational anecdotes of basic everyday life, he's doing it in a way that feels unfamiliar. It's not bad or unwelcome, it's just a version of a bluntly introspective Ewald that we maybe haven't seen before.
At the album's centre are "The Dogs," "Black Oak" and "Petersburg" — three tracks that feel more conversational, observational and anecdotal as opposed to lyrical. "Black Oak" stands tall at nearly seven minutes long, and has the same metronomic, walk-in-the-park feel the we get listening to the White Stripes' "We're Going to Be Friends." With a tone to his voice that's more talking than singing, Ewald is showing a different side — a side that relies more heavily on storytelling.
While the tone of Safe and Also No Fear is unlike anything we've experienced from Slaughter Beach, Dog, Ewald's songwriting ability rings through. He still has a way of making the ordinary and familiar extraordinary, as we relive familiar situations with him through a new, more climactic, lens. (Lame-O Records)