Dog Party’s Sunny Punk Adolescence
Lucy and Gwen Giles burst out of Sacramento in 2008 as tween sister duo Dog Party. Over the past seven years, they’ve grown up (a bit), as has their garage-punk sound. It seems they’d be just as at home opening for the Ramones in the ’80s or blowing up the riot grrl movement in the ’90s. They are both brash and disarmingly sweet. Every song on their latest release, Vol. 4, is one part fuzzy guitar, one part economical drums and one part sneering vocals.
Vol 4. flashes by in 30 minutes. Songs are under three minutes, keeping true to their punk heritage. They’re also every bit written by teenagers, but not exclusively for teenagers. “Dead Guy” is a paean to idolizing your favorite rock star, and the uselessness of it — something most adults can remember feeling. The Giles’ don’t hide their messages behind metaphor and abstraction, either. “Be My Friend” finds Gwen saying, “Please get out of my life.” Their honesty is refreshing and a huge part of their charm. When they sing about love it’s with simplicity. Lost love (“Forget”), pining love (“Sapphires”), and new love (“I Can’t Believe That You’re Real”) all get their few minutes of attention. A lot can be said with just a few power chords and a beat.
Dog Party is exactly what you want it to be. It’s what your high school garage band — real or imaginary — aspired to be. They make the kind of records you play along to while learning guitar. They pack in all the exuberant energy of youth without any of the awkwardness. It’s enough to almost make you want to be 16 again. Almost.