Jake Ewald, well-known as one-fourth of Modern Baseball
, steps into the spotlight on his first full-length album as Slaughter Beach, Dog
. Suitably titled Welcome (Lame-O Records), Ewald’s ten-track confessional holds nothing back. Each melody and each emotion is unfettered and nostalgic without apology. Like the grownup and more articulate version of your favorite band from undergrad, Slaughter Beach, Dog’s dream-pop adjacent anthems will melt your heart with ease.
Opening with the self-aware ‘90s throwback “Mall-rat Semiannual,” Welcome’s strength lies in Ewald’s ability to build an entire universe within a matter of seconds. Like a lyrical rendering of an intricate diorama, the album’s first track unfolds with earnest inflection, sway-worthy riffs, and a romanticism reminiscent of Pavement’s “Gold Soundz” meshed with Modest Mouse’s “Dramamine”. The directness of “Toronto Mug” is perfectly mirrored by the its brevity, while “Monsters” feels like the song you wish you wrote about yourself, depicting with precise rhythm what it means to be haunted by the shortcomings of others as well as your own.
“Bed Fest” plays out like the soundtrack to a mumblecore flick at its climax - bittersweet and subtle - awash in acoustic chords and swelling snare, ending in trippy reverb as Ewald croons, “You can’t stay here.” “Forever” and “Jobs” are pragmatic snapshots of the millennial plight framed by poppy backbeats and relatable proclamations like “I think that we’re better off just believing in ourselves, but that’s just me.” A sweet but solemn love song, “Politics of Grooming,” effortlessly bleeds into “Drinks,” a wistful theme for lovers not quite over their past, but unafraid of diving headfirst into the future, hand in hand despite misgivings. Like a premature epilogue, “Toronto Mug II” is lo-fi in all the right ways, serving as a welcomed primer to the album’s instrumental exit, “Essex Street.”
Staying true to its namesake, Slaughter Beach, Dog’s latest slew of songs will remind you of where you came from and who you really are. - Dianca London