Matt Mays' 'Dog City' Turns a Corny Concept into a Heartwarming Experiment

BY Oliver CrookPublished May 22, 2020

Some philosophical topics — freedom, unity, love — are hard to break down and understand through conventional means. Few of us are Socrates, after all. Matt Mays — Canada's answer to Tom Petty — tackled all these huge ideas in a different way on his surprise album Dog City: It's written from the eyes of a rescue dog. As corny as that sounds, it really isn't. It's too self-aware and heartwarming to make you cringe.

Rather, Dog City sees Mays at his most experimental. Recorded and mixed by Mays in his garage during quarantine, the freedom of not writing for a band allows him to lean hard into the sound he toyed with on 2019's single "Let There Be Love." The complete reimagining of the Stooges classic "I Wanna Be Your Dog" — with everything, including his vocals, dripping in echo and reverb — makes the song unrecognizable from the original but still as good. "The Public Gardens" sounds like Joel Plaskett in the Caribbean, while "Dan n' Shaniqua" is a quick-paced, Beach Boys-inspired romp in the sun.

But don't be alarmed, El Torpedo fans. "Dog City (a Doogie Boogie)" is both a great title and an ode to old school rock'n'roll, while "Charlie Andrews" feels like a canine "Queen of Portland Street." He's still the same ol' Mays, just a little calmer and more experimental than we're used to. Sure does suit him though.

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