The idea of a two-piece garage indie-punk band is nothing new – the dynamic has already been explored by bands like Royal Blood and Slaves. So this doesn’t cut it as a gimmick – the music has to stand out on its own merit. Thankfully, on …And the Hangnails’ ‘DOG’, it does. The band’s fourth album succeeds because it consolidates their sound, combining a more polished production and focused songwriting approach with the energy of their first two albums, and a lot less of the blues-rock-inspired flab from their third.
The first half of the album is full of upbeat, two-and-a-half-minute tracks such as ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ and ‘Junk’, which charge along at a breakneck pace, carried by simple-sounding, spiky guitars and great vocal work (and hooks made up of singable nonsense words).
Things slow down slightly around the halfway mark of ‘DOG’, with more laboured, well-constructed power-pop melodies and rousing choruses on tracks like ‘Answering Machine’ and ‘Adore/Repel’. Despite the fun of the earlier tracks, these later tracks benefit from being given more room to breathe.
The longest track, ‘Nothing More’, veers into the blues-rock territory ATH explored on their previous album, ‘RUT’. These elements work better this time round, being used in smaller doses. While closing track ‘Fear’ makes use of harsher guitar tones, offering a departure from the jangly or spiky guitars that dominate the record. It ends the album on a swaggering note that’s at once jarring and enjoyable.
A lot of ‘DOG’ sounds somewhat monotonous – in particular, the riffs on ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ and ‘Too Far Gone’ lack identity. But, because of the album’s breakneck pace – and how generally fun it sounds – this is very seldom noticeable when listening to the album.
‘DOG’ isn’t a masterpiece, but it succeeds in being an album full of well-written, fun rock songs that also sees …And the Hangnails creating the best possible version of their sound.
‘DOG’ by …And the Hangnails is released on 12th May on Young Thugs Records.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)