|Title:||The Grief Manual|
I don't know how, honestly, but The Dogs have made it once again: just one year after "Death By Drowning" they put out another chapter in their career, titled this time "The Grief Manual", and it is splendid. Let's just say that, for these six Norwegians who struck my heart like just a few other acts, publishing a new album every year has been a nice habit for some time and I couldn't be any less than happy, since waiting times become definitely shorter and I still have to hear even one disappointing song. I think you can already deduce, from these few lines, what my judgement on this sixth album will be.
My bad, the review comes a few months after the release date, but the silver lining is that I had (much) time to listen to all the songs at least twenty times and immerse myself in a garage punk that, behind rhythmic melodies that make your ass shake on your chair, hides and explores the most diverse tragedies of humankind in its lyrics: raw, sad or, as we often say here on Aristocrazia, doom.
Any examples? «If there's a god, we're the children that he loves the least»: I respect Kris' choice, writer of these lyrics, and I quote «god» with a lowercase letter. Or «Dearest friend / I know I made you up / But you're the only one I got», and «Whether it's love or cancer / Shortening our years / It will leave us dying alone / In the arms of a nightmare». Suicide, personal and family problems, all the worst things human beings could go through in their lifetime: probably "The Grief Manual" is a way to digest them and go on. After reading the lyrics (all written by Kristopher, the singer), we must say that the album acquires new shades and meanings, managing to hurt me personally on an emotional level, but maybe I'm a bit of a masochist and I keep on listening over and over again, like there's no tomorrow.
Musically speaking, I think it's an exemplary work, maybe less direct than "Death By Drowning", which instead hit me like a door I didn't see and I crashed into; a great metaphor for life, right? Here, we find ourselves in front of an album which digs slower into the listener, producing the same effects as the previous one and, probably, even in a more intense way. I have no intention of posing myself as a garage punk expert: these are just the humble opinions of an uncool person like many others, who some time ago discovered a genre which she didn't think she could love so much. Or, maybe, it's just The Dogs whom I love this much, who knows.
Moreover, more melancholic tones are present, like in "Primitive Etchings" or the excruciating "Her Last Song", next to more standard sounds for the genre, like in the first single "Lie To Me". Throwing ourselves in this musical catharsis is "We Were Made Out Of Loss", but please don't ask me to point out a favourite song, because it's a pretty hard task and I don't think I'd be able to do it. All I can say is that each piece has its own life and message, giving them specific personalities and making them fit perfectly with each other. "The Grief Manual" is a place where ten outsiders, in musical form, feel good all together, without feeling judged and creating a particular harmony.
By now, I have understood The Dogs mean to me a lot more than I'd have thought, and having seen them as a supporting act for my beloved Kvelertak makes it all even stranger: never go to a concert just for the headliners. Now I'm waiting for the Norwegians to come here in Helsinki once more and, why not, this time I'd like to exchange a few words with them. Looking forward to it!