Flight of Fancy
The Formatâ€šÃ„Ã´s sophomore release, Dog Problems, is an indie pop gem. Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s almost impossible to listen without bopping your head to their quirky, unabashedly cheery tunes with imaginative orchestrations. The Format had some problems in the time between their debut and this release, including a life changing breakup and getting dropped by their label twice. The heartache has served them well though. They released Dog Problems themselves and moved on wearing a brave face, but theyâ€šÃ„Ã²re still burdened by heartache.
Their upbeat, charismatic style remains with carefree songs like â€šÃ„ÃºThe Compromiseâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºOceans,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a track reminiscent of the Beach Boys. Between the â€šÃ„ÃºSha la lasâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºOooh oohsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ are lyrics like, â€šÃ„ÃºI hear youâ€šÃ„Ã´re somewhere in the sand /and how I wish I was an oceanâ€šÃ„Ã¹ Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s only after listening to their infectious melodies that you notice downtrodden lyrics like, â€šÃ„ÃºI am scarred by what she did to me.â€šÃ„Ã¹ It’s unexpected, but it works, blending whimsical arrangements with deeply personal lyrics, capturing a rough time in the life of their band.
The boldest and most poignant track, â€šÃ„ÃºDog Problems,â€šÃ„Ã¹ is exceptional. It could be a stage production that wouldâ€šÃ„Ã´ve made Freddy Mercury proud. There are even moments that feel like singer Nate Ruess should be tap dancing. It starts with a Dixieland jazz feel, then quiets down while Reuss sweetly sings, â€šÃ„ÃºThis is the sound of my heart breaking / And I hope its entertaining / Cause for me itâ€šÃ„Ã´s a bitch,â€šÃ„Ã¹ and it ends with an arrangement that sounds like the circus came to town.
With Dog Problems., The Format has created something very unlikely: a tight, independent sophomore release thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s more mature and meaningful than their first. It sparkles.