t’s been a prosperous year for new artists, with many excellent debut albums released during 2012. Alt-J, Frank Ocean, Howler and Tribes – to name just a few – have shined with their debut releases and there will undoubtedly be many new faces in the end of year ‘Best Albums of 2012’ lists. But if you think the best have already been and gone, you would be very much mistaken. And the latest new act to throw down the gauntlet are Nottingham five-piece Dog Is Dead with their debut album, All Our Favourite Stories.
It has not been a quick process for the boys, either, with All Our Favourite Stories being the culmination of five years growing up and making music together. In fact, lead singer, Robert Milton explains that the album is “inspired by the highs, the lows, every drunken night, every nose bleed, the bliss of new love and the shit that follows”. Some of the highs have included playing the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury in 2010, appearing on Skins – a dream everyone shares, surely? – and receiving airplay on Radio 1 and Radio 6 Music with the self-release of their first single Glockenspiel Song.
However, after their appearance in Skins they were quickly snapped up by Atlantic Records and began touring extensively as a headline act and as support for Bombay Bicycle Club. And it is easy to see why they were picked to play before Jack Steadman and Co. after listening to All Our Favourite Stories. Like Bombay Bicycle Club’s first album, Dog Is Dead’s sound captures the sound of college youth, but it does so in a way that is uplifting and exciting.
The album opens with the sultry bass and solitary beats of Get Low, as Milton’s sulky, but affecting vocal takes centre stage. It’s an interesting opener, one which is quite disarming in its slow build-up towards an emotional burst on the chorus. The angular guitar playing is also evident throughout on tracks such as Do The Right Thing and Talk Through The Night – which, as its title suggests, is about talking with friends through the night. Sure, there is nothing particularly new on All Our Favourite Stories, but it is undeniably uplifting and enjoyable.
Teenage Daughter features a massive sing-a-long chorus over a big guitar hook, while Hands Down is also built around thrashing guitars and a thrilling group harmony on the chorus. It also comes in the middle of the band’s other two singles, the melodic and moody Two Devils and the jazzy Glockenspiel Song. The latter, in particular, is the first song many will cite when talking about the quintet – and rightly so. Dog Is Dead’s signature song is a joyous slice of indie-pop, with infectious group harmonies, twinkling chimes and Lawrence “Trev” Cole’s ’80s-esque saxophone. “We are a mess, we are failures and we love it,” sings the group, capturing the fun abandon of their lyrics.
All Our Favourite Stories may not win any prizes for originality, but nevertheless, it’s comprised of ten songs which will provide some light during the dismal British weather. Dog Is Dead have worked hard to get to this point – the band have played a mammoth 25 festivals, including Reading and Leeds, Bestival and Latitude – and while their debut is unlikely to receive universal praise, it is hard not to fall in love with the band’s simple aesthetic. It may not be groundbreakingly new, but All Our Favourite Stories is one of the most entertaining albums of the year.