DOGS DIE IN HOT CARS
"Please Describe Yourself"
The lively single that started Dogs Die in Hot Cars' career last year in Britain, and now opens the Scottish band's debut album, blends several ingredients, notably bratty humor and jumpy ska rhythms. The melodic provenance of "I Love You 'Cause I Have To" is not quite so evident, but it comes into focus as "Please Describe Yourself" progresses: This unfortunately named quintet owes a Third World-size debt to XTC.
Dogs Die also channel other blithe, upbeat '80s Brit-pop acts, and this album was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who were instrumental in defining that musical era. The result is consistently tuneful and energetic, if sometimes a little too facetious ("Paul Newman's Eyes") or chirpy ("Modern Woman," a flip transgender parable). Still, the similarity of singer-guitarist Craig Macintosh's style to that of XTC tunesmith Andy Partridge becomes a bit distracting, notably during "Celebrity Sanctum," "Somewhat Off the Way" and "Apples & Oranges" (which is almost named for an XTC album). Next time around, Macintosh and his cohorts should make it a little more difficult for a '80s-savvy listener to describe their band.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Friday at the 9:30 club with Delegate. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Dogs Die in Hot Cars, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8123. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)