The Golden Dogs
Everything in 3 Parts
(Maple Music; 2003)
By Peter Hepburn | 22 June 2005
“Their debut full length is a relentless pop record with remarkably few tell-tale signs of the group’s youth; from Blue Rodeo and Luther Wright to Super Furry Animals and Guided by Voices, they take on a wide range of styles and rarely stumble in the process (“Can’t Get Your Face Out of My Head,” for instance, comes a little too close to being MOR pop). Expect big things from this band in the future.” — Scott Reid, 2003
So what gives? The CMG ed-in-chief puts Everything in 3 Parts above Phantom Power on his 2003 best-of list, and it takes me until summer of 2005 to track it down? There have been re-release issues, and hey, to be fair, it’s been a busy couple of years.
The important thing is that, by all accounts, the album has aged well. The Golden Dogs are a quintet of power-popping Canadians with a healthy dose of Zumpano and a bit of Guided by Voices that still mostly do their own thing. Thankfully, they do their own thing really well. Band leader Dave Azzolini is less absurdist than Carl Newman, but he has an ear for melody and talent for hooks that comes through strong with several of the songs here.
The clear, amazing, ought-to-have-made-this-band-renowned number here is “Birdsong,” one of those wonderful tracks where you can practically hear all the band members playing at full pace. Beau Stocker’s drumming keeps the song moving at a steady clip, and his fills lead through to the finale perfectly, letting Azzolini ride the sort of beautiful, high-pitched guitar melody that Brian Wilson or Paul McCartney would approve of. The band never captures that ideal pop magic anywhere else here, but they certainly come close on a number of occasions. The ska feel of “Can’t Get Your Face Out of My Head” begs the question of why more pop bands can’t do that sort of guitar work in the upper register, and Stocker again plays flawlessly at top speed, going in about three directions at once. “Elevator Man” ought to be hokey but somehow manages to avoid that; equally lucky is the lyrically weak yet still invigorating “Bastards.”
Some of the slower numbers fare less well (especially Blue Rodeo-ish ballad “I Don’t Sleep”), but Azzolini manages to sell the drunken catastrophe of “Anniversary Waltz” quite convincingly. The hook on “Balloons” fails to connect, but the closing pair of songs may, in their strange and wacky way, be the best part of the album, with a deep hook for “Driving in the Rain” playing well into the bombastic “Big Boy and the Masters of the Universe.” While the latter takes a while to kick in lyrically, the central verse sells it. Off the wall? Certainly. A hell of a lot of fun? Equally so.
We haven’t quite seen those great things that Scott promised us yet; but with this reissue making Everything in 3 Parts more widely available, and with popular awareness turned squarely towards Canada with the upcoming release of the New Pornographers’ Twin Cinema, one can only hope that the Golden Dogs will get some of the attention that they so justly deserve. At the very least, after two years, it’s about time for another album.