Music for Dogs
Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
One thing that occurred in my brain as I clicked on the play button for Gardens and Villa’s latest album Music for Dogs was the immediate feeling of being teleported. Sadly this was not the case. Unsadly (not a word) I was treated to something unexpected past the fifty second teleportation theme. That is of course that I had few expectations going in. A few articles buzzing around had favorably compared the singles, “Fixations” and “Everybody” to the glam rock heights of Roxy Music and post-Roxy Music, Brian Eno before he decided ambient music was the way to go. Having completed a full circuit of the album, its sound is more firmly tied to the futurism and experimentation of Tubeway Army’s Replicas or the Gary Numan solo follow-up, Telekon. Reminders of David Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” of albums also creep into the mix here.
In this way it’s devilishly difficult to classify how I felt about Music for Dogs as a whole much less how I should assign a general rating to it. Shades of brilliance clutter around, interrupted here and there by flitting bits of electronic noise and urban sprawl that often punctuate the ends of most tracks. This latter addition is often unwelcome and unpleasant. Yet while I find it hard to divine the purpose of those inclusions, there’s a wonderful amount of Music for Dogs that makes sense.
Past the ever-present and murmuring robotic synths lies peaceful introspection, something that can be heard on the Neon Indian-tinged sound of “Paradise” and the following track “Alone in the City.” Whether inspired by the fallout from the band’s sophomore release Dunes or something more deeply personal, the lyrical content alludes to heartbreak and the hallowed search for a personal paradise. The singles themselves, “Fixations” in particular, are inspired reminders of glam rock’s heyday lying somewhere between the stated Gary Numan futurism and peculiar wonder that is Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets right down to the staggered baritone backing vocals. Music for Dogs exists as something created from the background radiation of science-fiction supernova. Between the experimental art rock, vintage synths, and old-school midi sound of cartridge video games, Gardens and Villa find something of their own paradise.