REVIEW: Sweet Weapons – All of My Best Friends are Dogs

Sweet Weapons

Artist: Sweet Weapons
Album: All Of My Best Friends Are Dogs
Genre: Hardcore/rock
Label: Escapist Records

It’s strangely difficult to get more information on Sweet Weapons, but in an odd way it kind of adds to the lure of this album. All of my Best Friends are Dogs is, in itself, a profoundly strange album, but it has a curiously compelling appeal that transcends the all but indistinguishable lyrics and occasionally grating vocals. I may only know the half of what they’re singing about, but even without words there’s enough merit in the mood and music to convince.

Infused with a predictably DIY sound, there’s a kind of urban edge to All of my Best Friends… that’s perhaps its most endearing factor. It comes across as something dreamed up in the proverbial basement, but it’s actually in capturing that slightly bleak, occasionally violent, and ultimately oppressive image that the album excels. The songs are very short – the entire thing clocks in at just over twenty minutes – making it feel like something of an episodic look at the grubbier confines of a life. It fits, then, that the record wears imprints of hardcore and punk on its sleeve. “Not Golden” and “Blue Crush” establish their credentials long before the raucousness of “Strange Brew” thrusts wild drumming into the piece. However, there is patently more to this than just the grungy, disgruntled sound. The combination of grumbling guitars and raspy vocals is visceral in evoking a slate grey air of general dissatisfaction. The music seems to vibrate with a throbbing discord of restlessness. It’s unseated from its surrounds, reacting to it with alternately violent and distant movements. It’s plain, but quite striking in its ability to pinpoint a mood. On “Low End Lonny,” the guitars seem to play out a song of observation and discontent, while on “Summer Catch” the tone is noticeably lighter, faint inklings of warmth petering through in the vocals. The latter can seem one-note at times but they do much to enhance the tone of the songs. Some tracks sound vaguely humorous or tongue-in-cheek while others are caustic and searing.

Much of the album steers clear of fully-blown emotion, but in some tracks the instruments do much to assert a hidden heart. “Summer Catch”, as noted above, has a palpable undercurrent of longing, particularly in its freer, pensive ending. “Settle Down” also closes on a thoughtful note, with the music suddenly straying to provide a staccato, resistant ending to an otherwise driven song. “Hoop Dream” uses a subtle guitar harmony to voice emotion, the slower tempo and repeated lyrics affording it a slightly haunted air. The songs wind down as the album reaches its end. Whereas the opening tracks were fierier and more aggressive, the final two tracks sound markedly different. “Sour” is almost ghostly, its outlook removed and distant and the music deliberately downplayed. “Enough Already” seems disillusioned and ends just as abruptly as you’d expect in something so suddenly resigned.

Lo-fi but with hidden depths, All of My Best Friends… is a surprisingly capable record. Its grungy sounds mask a potent sense of mood and atmosphere, with careful subtleties in the music and vocals standing in for anything more extravagant. It might take a few listens to convince you, but there are interesting things on show here, and with a few more resources Sweet Weapons could be on to something very good indeed.

SCORE: 8/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

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