Friday, 16 October 2009

Criminally Underrated Albums of the 2000's: #02

Dogs Die In Hot Cars – Please Describe Yourself

It may not have gone unnoticed that I've made you wait for the final two in the series chronicling what I believe to be the most underrated albums of the past ten years, and instead of putting it down to my being busy if we could collectively reason that the gap has been for artistic reasons. To build a palpable sense of tension before discussing what is no less than a tragedy: that Dogs Die In Hot Cars one and only album has been all but forgotten by music critics and list compliers.

At the time reviews for Please Describe Yourself were lukewarm. None seemed to want to slate the record (aside from one NME writer who in a review of single 'Lounger' “hilariously” branded the record “dogshite”), yet at the same time most had their minds elsewhere. This was 2004, and as such it is understandable that attention was drawn to Franz Ferdinand and early rumblings of Bloc Party, and the underground being temporarily forgotten (the brilliant Ikara Colt released their fantastic second record around the same time and split soon after). Yet, Dogs Die In Hot Cars were managing to make a small commercial splash. Granted, at this time scoring a UK Top 40 Hit wasn't as impossible for bands as it now is, but this doesn't change the fact that DDIHC and their singles such as 'I Love You 'Cause I Have To' and 'Godhopping' for a brief time intruded on the national consciousness.

Oddly it now seems difficult to find people who remember Dogs Die In Hot Cars, yet those who do have always appeared rather fond of them and of Please Describe Yourself. At KPL towers this is a pleasing fact for the record is ten songs short and with each having a distinctive style and subject matter. Coming at a time before the term 'quarter-life crisis' was being widely used across the internet, Craig Macintosh's lyrics spoke of loneliness, insecurity of ambitions and achievements, of inadequacy and of an attempt to find identity and closeness. 'Glimpse Of The Good Life' is the epitome of this, a semi-sarcastic take on how we're 'supposed' to live, a snarl at those that practice feng-shui that depresses the deep set feeling that actually, we might be wrong after all.

Of course, if the album were all paranoia and insecurity this would be all but untenable. No, Please Describe Yourself sets this to a XTC new-wave bounce and Belle and Sebastian-like acoustic indie shuffles. To call it “satisfying” or “complete” would be accurate but resorting to cliché on my part. Nonetheless not a moment, nor a not or lyric is wasted and the record is essential for anyone who has grown up in the UK in the wake of the “war on terror” and increasing stipulations from up-high detailing what our successes, failures and lives should be measured by. That no follow up came is one of the worst musical happenings of the 2000's.

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