Slaughter Beach, Dog – ‘Safe And Also No Fear’

By Andy Joice

As you may or may not know, there’s been a heatwave in the UK. It’s been sweltering. When it gets that hot, it’s difficult to find music that’s both satisfying and cooling. You can’t listen to thrash hardcore – the rapid tempo naturally warms you up even more.

Luckily, like a cornetto appearing out of nowhere, Slaughter Beach, Dog have released their third full length ‘Safe And Also No Fear’. While it’s still very much the baby of Modern Baseball’s Jake Ewald, he’s expanded the line up to include Ian Farmer – also of Modern Baseball – as well as Nick Harris and Zach Robbins, of All Dogs and Superheaven respectively.

Initially an outlet for Ewald to get over writers block, it resulted in fictional stories, the characters within them, and their struggles. While there’s ‘pop-punk’ pedigree amongst the band members, Slaughter Beach, Dog is as far removed as you could possibly get. It’s folky alt rock with a heavy reliance on cleverly written, emotive lyrics. There’s something quite cooling about the sound. It’s built on a base of acoustic guitar, with the rhythm section being very much that – rhythmic. It’s not littered with solos or rolling drums. Everything is very precise. Gentle acoustic melodies with a melancholic core, it breezes through its 36 minute length whilst subtly touching topics such as aspirations, insecurity, and loss, without ever feeling overwhelming or too heavy.

Single ‘Heart Attack’ is a bouncy, alt-folk take on the torture waiting for a response. Desperate in a light-hearted way, the vocal harmonies are pitch perfect and add to the need for attention.

Perhaps the greatest piece of writing within the record features in ‘Black Oak’. A two-part story regarding a man who’s eaten a variety of household objects – a watch, a tea towel, and letter magnets – who then vomits the letters up, only for them to form his lovers name. Cue him setting off to track her down, only to find her carving poems in the park, while part two references a diner worker writing a manuscript. What’s clear is that Ewald can write compelling and compassionate characters with ease. At seven minutes long, the track ends with whispered, almost inaudible versus buried amongst glorious melodies.

While slightly jarring due to the production, ‘Petersburg’ has a very Beatles feel to it – partly due to the strange dissonance in the background, partly due to its whimsical content. Very much an acoustic track, it’s something you could expect midway through ‘Rubber Soul’.

The final track on the record, ‘Anything’, is a delicate ode to growing up and the changes it has on relationships. While most songs throughout ‘Sage And Also No Fear’ seem to be character based, ‘Anything’ feels deeply personal, with Ewald’s voice portraying a haunting fragility rarely seen on the album.

Let’s not forget that this is a band Ewald created as an outlet for tracks that didn’t feel like Modern Baseball songs. The content is subtle and mature. It isn’t about trying to get a girlfriend, but more the ordinary lives of mundane people. At its core, it is an anthology of poetry, set to a beautifully evocative score. It doesn’t need to be anything else.

ANDY JOICE

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