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CD Reviews: Review of Please Describe Yourself by Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Paulsen Home / CD Reviews Home / Entertainment Channel / Entertainment Web Guide

Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Dogs Die In Hot Cars: Please Describe Yourself  (V2 International 2004)

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For all the hype about the current retro-rock trend, I’ve noticed that while the usual suspects – Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and Interpol, to name a few – sound as if they are influenced by 80’s new wave, none of the music actually sounds as if it came from the decade of bad neon fashion and Reagan’s “voodoo economics.” This perspective changed when I heard Please Describe Yourself, the debut album from Scotland’s Dogs Die In Hot Cars. (For those wondering about the origin of the band’s name/public service announcement, the group was inhaling helium balloons one day and it just sort of slipped out. They saw it in print and thought it looked golden, and the rest is history.) Consisting of eleven sunny songs – channeling the likes of XTC and the Talking Heads – Please Describe Yourself is probably the best ‘80s album written since 1989.

Every song on the disc is both catchy and distinct, which is no small feat. The band’s first single “I Love You ‘Cause I Have To” gets things off to a raucous start and while it’s a great song, it’s not even one of the best tracks on the disc. On “Modern Woman,” the group – much like Hot Hot Heat did on Make Up The Breakdown – shows the rare ability to write both catchy verses and choruses. The only thing that dates the album is the lyrics in the silly celebrity-worship anthem “Celebrity Sanctum.” The humor is apparent, starting with the line “I love Lucy / I love Lucy Liu / yes I love her twice as much as you” and moving on with “now there’s Jolie / Angela Jolie / could you ever look as good as she?” But in the end, the desperate character in the song realizes what’s really important and just wants “someone who will come home.”

The upwardly cascading “Apples & Oranges” is the kind of song that, if you’re on the verge of a good mood, will put you well over the top. This is true for most of the disc – if you’re in a crap mood and want to stay in a crap mood, Please Describe Yourself isn’t for you. The chorus on the album’s second single, “Godhopping,” is somehow both difficult to make out and infectious, the only clear words being “all the way to Bombay.” Arguably, the nod for the best song on the disc goes to the slacker-anthem “Lounger,” written from the point of view of an educated man not doing much with his education – the chorus goes “I get up when I like / wear anything I like / don’t keep up with the cool / I make up my own rules” culminating with a delicious vocalization on “I can lounge about in my house ‘cause lounging about is…good.”

The silliness continues on “Paul Newman’s Eyes,” and you’ll soon be singing along with the Irish-drinking-song-inspired chorus. “Pastimes & Lifestyles” is another upbeat number with a cascading chorus that will put a smile on your face and get your blood flowing. Even when they slow things down, as on “Glimpse At The Good Life,” it still works. Despite its odd title and lyrics, “Who Shot The Baby?” closes the album in the same spirit as the opener and, when it’s finally over, you’ll need a pill to come down from the high you’ll be on.

Okay, I’ve raved about almost every track and the last thing I want to do is oversell the disc and give you bloated expectations. But with its peppy, catchy hooks and sunny disposition, Please Describe Yourself might be the perfect summer album. Released last August, it belongs with the likes of Franz Ferdinand’s debut and Modest Mouse’s Good News For People Who Like Bad News – it’s one of the best albums of 2004.

~John Paulsen 


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