Music For Dogs would appear to be not so much about dogs as about contemporary culture and Los Angeles. No bad thing, as Gardens & Villa kick out with a jittery, overstimulated energy that well suits these modern times. Fast moving synth-pop duo (all the best synth-pop is by duo’s eh?) on the Secretly Canadian label.
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Esteemed Norman anthropologist Kim once told me that she thinks all music made in the 21st century sounds like the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and listening to the first proper track from “Music For Dogs” I’m inclined to agree. On a hammed-up melody that carries “Maximize Results” through three long minutes, they sound like Andrew Lloyd-Webber being photoshopped into the music video for Maximo Park’s “Speed And Velocity”. My goodness.
Gardens & Villa sound like they’re actually aiming for this pantomimic sound, so props to them: they’re as unabashed about their pop inclinations as Ezra Furman, seemingly just tacking on effects, persistent piano chords and a love of that stupid indie rock era (which includes the aforementioned Maximo Park, plus the Hoosiers and the Klaxons) to various songs that sound like ‘Hunky Dory’ rejects. The moments of relief come when the band slow it down and concentrate on more than the base of synth/piano and drums, like the opening twenty seconds of “Paradise”, which sound smooth and beguiling. Over the course of the record, their aesthetic seems to randomly strike out into ballads like “Alone In The City”, which take a wistful high-pitched vocal and place it over an almost industrial backdrop. It's a disorientating mix that feels way too close up and incredibly far away.
On the cover, Clint has scribbled a pertinent question: “Will this be terrier-able, or could it be melan collie, or shih tzu?”. I don’t labradore it.
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- Music For Dogs by Gardens & Villa
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