Sonic waves of psychedelic guitar ribbonry meeting their match in a supple vocal track. A rollicking rhythm that is as shapeless as a cloud finding some structure within the framework of a pastoral groove. Grinding overdriven fretwork skewed with plaintive poetic nattering. Decadent twang repurposed into a swaggering postmodern harmony that is both futuristic and rife with vintage tonality simultaneously. In “Reality,” “You Say You Wanna Go Back,” “Tree of Heaven” and “Cold Daylight,” listeners are welcomed into the surreal world of Dogs at Large’s new album Delusions of Paradise, but these four heatseekers are only a taste of what can be expected out of all ten songs that comprise its sprawling tracklist. In this record, the Chicago-based band weaves together a magnificent pop simplicity with a sophisticated approach to melodicism, and never fails to keep us on the edge of our seats, even in eccentric moments like “All Day” and the addictive “Fool’s Paradise.” This is an engaging listening experience on steroids, and it’s out this March everywhere that independent music is sold and streamed.
Delusions of Paradise shifts the focus away from the predictable pop hooks of mainstream rock n’ roll towards a more erudite concept altogether; the relationship between the textures of Dogs at Large’s instrumental play and the sharp lyrical content adorning them. “Carol Street,” “These Days,” “All Day” and “Mind Gets Straight” are the epitome of contemporary postmodernism, but the band is quite careful to avoid the negative excesses that occasionally intrude upon records as ambitiously structured as this one is. “Cold Daylight” represents one of the more straightforward tracks on the whole of the album, and it balances out the urgency of the record’s first act with the patient pendulousness of its second beautifully. Everything that I hear in Delusions of Paradise tells me that not only is Dogs at Large pulling out all the stops here to give us the full scope of their musicality, but moreover, that they’re nowhere near finished when it comes to exploring the depth of their songcraft in its totality. From where I sit, there’s just too much experimentation, too many facets steeped in avant-garde theory, and frankly, too much panache in their play to think anything different.
Cerebral, evocative, thought-provoking and rich with more textural expression than almost any other record I’ve listened to in the last three months, Dogs at Large dispense an utter masterpiece in Delusions of Paradise, and undisputedly leave anyone with a taste for solid indie rock rhythm hungry for more of this mesmerizing music. Having found myself absorbed in this record’s ten stately tracks on more than one occasion, I can honestly vouch that this album is awfully hard to put down once it’s been picked up for the first time, and I have a feeling that, based on the skillset that this band is sporting in each of these songs, it won’t be the last we hear from Dogs at Large. Their brand of rock n’ roll doesn’t need a lot of fluff or frills to leave a memorable mark on anyone who hears it, and I for one can’t wait to see what they do with it next.