What: Dog Man Star
When: October 1994
I’ve read/heard loads on the coked-up magisterial brilliance of Dog Man Star; however, have never heard it in its entirety. Let’s fix that, shall we?
As it happens, for the most part, despite majority opinion tending to disagree with me, I generally like albums that have been written and recorded whilst their makers were taking loads and loads of cocaine. What some people find overblown, overlong, and generally unlistenable, I generally find quite pleasant, I concede the facts, but reject the conclusion.
Thanks to that overly long intro, you’ve probably gathered, I liked this. A lot.
This album tells a story. Brett Anderson sings frankly about drug abuse and rough sex, but without pointlessly embellishing it. In his world, actions have consequences, wild nights have mornings after, and he’s careful never to tell you the moral of the story.
By ‘Heroine’, I was in love. It’s sexy, and that bassline is hot. This albums gives some of the most powerful visuals yet, and for this I’m seeing a big, romantic epic, where Brett’s the hero, coming for this waify thing dressed in a white nightie, in a huge castle, with billowing curtains. I can barely begin to describe how amazing this is.
This whole album feels so.. Earnest. I know it only comes about because Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson hated each other so much by the end of it that the sheer force of their hatred made them both write better than they’d ever written before. But I don’t care. It’s amazing. Brett Anderson’s vocal is gorgeous. Bernard guitar sounds incredible. This is a band at the top of their game.
Elsewhere, tracks like ‘The Asphalt World’ and ‘New Generation’ are the soundtrack to the gangster film I’ll never make, the latter something David Bowie himself would’ve been proud to have written. Actually, include ‘The Hollywood Life’ on that soundtrack too. It’s got the most delicious dirty guitars, which make a noise that goes straight to my ovaries. It is incredible; I could write reams on just this song, it perfectly encapsulates that self-indulgent and overwrought frustration within the entire industry. It’s so unreal, and the appeal is in that seedy glamour (or appearance of it).
They also have some of the best ballads ever written. ‘The Power’ is reflective and pensive as well as ‘Daddy’s Speeding’ and ‘Still Life’ which, spoilers: sounds nothing like the Horrors, is a lovely, picturesque tune, which everyone who loves this album seems to love, but…
The true gem of this record, the absolute without a doubt best song that I have heard in far too long, is ‘The 2 Of Us’, a gorgeous, heartfelt, piano-led ballad. Anyone who says it’s overblown has missed the point. It’s a necessary melodrama. He is behaving like a fool. He is being overdramatic. It should be embarrassing for all involved, but it’s not, because it’s just too sad. It’s like his heart is being literally wrested from his chest, and slowly torn to tiny shreds in front of his eyes, and it’s so painful, so unbearable that the only thing he can do, with his last moments of sanity is write this heart-shattering song.
What a record. Wow. I’ve wasted too long, not listening to this album. Please, please don’t make the same mistake.