ALBUM REVIEW: ‘The State We’re In’ by D.I.D (Dog Is Dead)

Ever since Nottinghamshire four-piece Dog is Dead released their infectious debut album ‘All Our Favourite Stories’ in 2012, they’ve managed to maintain a modest grip on the indie scene, whilst at the same time having their music featured in about every British television programme from Made In Chelsea to Skins.

Unlike their musical predecessors such as The Wombats and arguably Two Door Cinema Club, I think what works for D.I.D is their ability to write killer songs, but simultaneously keep their feet firmly planted on the ground regarding their plans for mainstream domination. A chilled-out, but nevertheless renewed and talented outfit – what more could one ask for from a band?

Now acting under the acronym D.I.D, the band on their second album seem to be taking life a bit more seriously than on their summery devil may care debut. In the year building up to the release of ‘The State We’re In’, they released new EP ‘Fast Food’, which contained four original songs (‘Fast Food’, ‘Gameplan’, ‘Hotel’ and ‘Big Lie’), and then they also put out a Christmas single with one B-side (‘Heavy Cloud’). Cheekily, the lads have chosen to include all five of these ‘newish’ tracks on their sophomore release, meaning we are left with only five unheard gems to sink our teeth into.

Not to undercut the ‘Fast Food’ EP or ‘Heavy Cloud’ at all – the songs are catchy as hell and I think they were released individually before the album (and then later included on it) is to mark a definitive shift in direction for the band, and moreover to tie fans over until the new a record was ready. Darker, grittier, but ever hopeful, who said you can’t teach an old new dog new tricks?

‘Killer Whale’, ‘Funny Bones’ and ‘Flush’ are about as close as the album comes to vintage Dog Is Dead. Intelligently poised to portray both that innocent naivety that encompassed their signature sound, but at the same time the subtle undertone of the fear of getting older and the harsh realities of life, the songs become instant classics.

The two real standout moments of the album though are the title track, which as far as the name can convey, is a melancholic apology for how things inevitably have to change, but this does not always mean for the worse. The other song that really hit home for me was ‘I Meant to Hurt You’, because as an album closer it does everything it’s meant to: a slow burner, with a morbid but triumphant chorus. Ending angelically with the harmonies, ‘cold time, guess it’s easier to dive in the deep end sometimes… Cold time, yeah it’s easier to hide in the darkness sometimes,’ the band sign off, but fingers crossed, not for good.

It seems the curse of the second album (after the flawless first) that most bands face has been broken by D.I.D. They’re not going to be simply another indie artist that falls off the radar and disappears after a couple of records.

With proof of genuine innovation on ‘The State We’re In’ and an overarching newfound maturity, I think the band set their marks high for another stab at conquering the music world. Personally, I believe if the world listens attentively, this Dog might just have some new life in it yet.

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