Label: Triple Crown Records
Released: 10th April 2020
Joining Origami Angel, Macseal and Glass Beach, Michigan’s Dogleg are part of a new generation of bands taking emo – in the broadest sense – in new and exciting directions.
And while these bands are all pushing innovation in the genre, none can match Dogleg for intensity. ‘Melee’ is thrillingly relentless in its pursuit of musical nirvana – characterised by lead single ‘Fox’, which starts like a dervish and collapses with exhaustion three minutes later. Remarkably, this approach is never diluted. What you have here is 10 songs of pulsating post-hardcore tinged indie-rock that barrel along at perilous speed.
Vocalist Alex Stoitsiadis certainly sounds on edge throughout, and his half-spoken, half-howled lyrics will undoubtedly strike a chord with many a sweaty mosh pit. Harking back to the late 90s emo heyday, there’s a breathless energy and edginess to his vocals that feel suitably worn in, worn out and worn down. Musically it’s a similar story, with everything played with frantic and frazzled urgency, while a smattering of gleeful gang vocals ensures ‘Melee’ has a playful personality to match the emotional power.
At times, things nearly get too much; ‘Cannonball’, for example, feels like it could implode at any moment, yet is seemingly held aloft by guts and willpower alone. For emotional music, this is forever the litmus test; how far can you push a song without it turning into a catastrophic mess? ‘Cannonball’ is as close to the line as you’re ever likely to get – and the results are glorious.
Also, there’s no escaping the fact that ‘Melee’ is a tremendous amount of fun. Its kinetic energy is undeniably infectious, while songs like ‘Wartortle’ and closing number ‘Ender’ highlight how anger and anguish can be combined to make compelling and engaging indie-rock.