One of the most disarming moments on A Giant Dog's latest full-length, Toy, comes near the very end of the record, on closer "Survive," when frontwoman Sabrina Ellis tenderly coos, "I'm such a piece of shit / I wanna kill myself, I wanna kill myself" over a lone clean guitar line. She immediately follows that line up with "But darling, if I did / You'd have nobody else / nobody else."
It's a moment that passes quickly, but provides an effective summary of the record. It's polished and candid — but don't you forget these guys are a punk band first and foremost.
Even with some of the less-punkish moments throughout the record (a Sparks cover, a guest appearance from Spoon's Britt Daniel), the record still bristles with energy. Their version of Sparks' "Angst in my Pants" cranks up the tempo and douses the original version with new-wave synths and liberal amounts of distorted guitars. The rhythm section is more than up to the task of bringing the energy, too, as evidenced by tracks like "Photograph," "Bendover" and "Lucky Ponderosa."
Punk has a long history of baring its emotions through shouted choruses, in double time and buoyed by layers of feedback, and A Giant Dog is no stranger to showcasing their vulnerabilities. "I feel I've revealed more in this album than ever before," Ellis notes in the record's press release, and that's especially true with tracks like "Survive," where the band tone it down for a moment to let the lyricism shine. While the rest of the album blows past you at breakneck pace, there are enough moments where the band let their deeper side show. It keeps Toy interesting. (Merge)