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Format, The - Dog Problems Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 9.75
Production 8.5
Creativity 9.25
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.25
Final Verdict: 91%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.6
Musicianship 9.6
Lyrics 9.7
Production 9.6
Creativity 9.7
Lasting Value 9.6
Reviewer Tilt 9.6
Average: 96%
Inside AP.net

Format, The - Dog Problems

Reviewed by: Steve Henderson (05/25/06)
The Format - Dog Problems
Release Date (digital): May 18, 2006
Release Date (proper): July 11, 2006
Record Label: Vanity Records


It was really kind of unorthodox how I ended up getting into The Format. I was sitting there a few summers ago, spinning my recently-purchased Straylight Run album, when "It's for the Best" came on. Now, while my ears are not usually so keen on the first listen to a record, this time I immediately picked out the gorgeous background vocals on this track. Who in the hell was that? Alas, a quick peek in the liner notes and a few subsequent Google searches told me that I would be headed back to Tower Records to buy The Format's Interventions and Lullabies. At the time, I thought my actions might have been a little rash, but if as a vocalist, you can make John Nolan sound like shit by comparison, I will be interested in checking out what you can accomplish with a band of your own.

When I got my copy of Interventions and Lullabies and threw it in my player, I was quite satisfied and even impressed with the effortless way the band stitched together a quilt of pop, folk, and alt-country elements to make something fresh and innovative, but at the same time remarkably accessible. Songs like "The First Single," "Give It Up," and "Tune Out" were all well-executed efforts in the way that they presented a jangly, bouncy country twist on otherwise solid pop songs, and hooked me in to the record as a whole - one that still finds its way into my changer from time to time. After prolonged exposure to Interventions and Lullabies, I was both excited and hesitant to call The Format one of my new favorite bands - I loved what I heard, but at the same time I was fearful for what I hadn't.

Fast forward to 2006, and after a stint of borderline-reclusive silence, news of The Format's follow-up began to trickle out. They started playing shows in their home state of Arizona and started putting together new material, when the inexplicable happened - they got dropped by Atlantic Records. Now, I am not one to purport that I understand the ins and outs of the music business, but I will stand by this statement: If as a label, you cannot make a massive hit out of an album like Interventions and Lullabies, the onus is on you, not the artist. Reportedly, though, the decision to drop the band was tied not to past performance, but supposed inadequacy of the new material. While I like to take what labels think worth a grain if salt, this new development added to the fears that accompany any band's follow-up, and made for a case where the specter of the sophomore slump hung rather ominously over the once-sunny future of the band.

Thankfully, with the release of Dog Problems, those fears were totally and completely unfounded. On The Format's follow up to their slick debut, they have upped the ante considerably, and put out a record that trumps even the best aspects of its precursor. From the first warbly, underwater-sounding notes of "Matches" to the close of "If Work Permits," the guys have constructed something truly special here. Sure, Interventions and Lullabies contained some experimental elements, but like a retarded cousin at a family barbeque, they were shooed into the periphery, while the "safer" elements reigned at the forefront. Dog Problems, though, pulls a complete 180, and boldly subdues the guitar hooks, while inviting strings, horns, piano, and a host of other unlikely players to the main areas of focus, with lush, well-planned vocal arrangements (tucked nicely behind Nate's unique high-pitched caw) and sharp lyrical wordplay to boot. Tunes like "Time Bomb," "She Doesn't Get It," and "Oceans" bring together the best of all these elements, crafting an end result that is devilishly catchy, musically proficient, tosses out enough "ooohh" and "ahhh" accents to make The Beach Boys proud.

In the end, Dog Problems is an album that faced failure and doubt in the face and comes out a resounding success and triumph. Whereas some bands might have faltered and stutter-stepped in the face of what stacked up against The Format, these guys bravely barreled on, and made the record that they wanted to. With their newfound confidence in a much-improved sound, the band has made a record that not only hits hard with the initial pop punch, but also ages gracefully, as all classics do. Also, for as rushed as the recording process is supposed to have been, the attention to detail on Dog Problems is staggering. Do yourself a favor - buy the digital download, pop on a good pair of headphones, and try not to be so impressed you'll want to buy a hard copy when it comes out in July. With that, I wish you good luck.

Recommended if you like Limbeck, The Lonely Hearts, Flaming Pie-era Paul McCartney, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 61
02:50 PM on 05/25/06
#2
zizou1790
City of Champions
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great record
02:51 PM on 05/25/06
#3
Jared Kaufman
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Couldn't agree more; amazing review.
02:52 PM on 05/25/06
#4
deja andyroo
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A few summers ago? The Straylight Run self-titled came out in October 2004. So unless it was last summer...

Not to get on your case too much, I just recommend doing a little bit of fact-checking before posting your reviews. Otherwise, it can come off as being quickly written or not authentic. Aside from that, it looks fine.
02:57 PM on 05/25/06
#5
jusscali
EMO REVIVAL IS FOR BITCHES
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yeah i will say that is one amazing review, i agree with you, and i just love how u wrote it.

well done
02:58 PM on 05/25/06
#6
fedhed7
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Awesome review Uncle Rico.
02:58 PM on 05/25/06
#7
trustmeimokay
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Originally Posted by deja andyroo
A few summers ago? The Straylight Run self-titled came out in October 2004. So unless it was last summer...

Not to get on your case too much, I just recommend doing a little bit of fact-checking before posting your reviews. Otherwise, it can come off as being quickly written or not authentic. Aside from that, it looks fine.
Oooh. I no longer respect Steve.
03:00 PM on 05/25/06
#8
KH_The_49th
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I wouldnt say there's many(if any) albums that could warrant all 9 and 9.5s but this is definitely a very good record. The scores are a bit high, but still a good review nonetheless.
03:05 PM on 05/25/06
#9
preppyak
Jeff Withey: the Great White Hope
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Originally Posted by KH_The_49th
I wouldnt say there's many(if any) albums that could warrant all 9 and 9.5s but this is definitely a very good record. The scores are a bit high, but still a good review nonetheless.
haha...you are an idiot..you ripped the album in Tate's review of it...and now you love it?

As I quoted you in the last one (I assume before you got banned/invisibled)


Originally Posted by KH_The_48th
Review is laughable..

How can anything be that perfection to warrant such high scores? CD is good, but not near-perfection. What a joke..
03:06 PM on 05/25/06
KH_The_49th
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Originally Posted by preppyak
haha...you are an idiot..you ripped the album in Tate's review of it...and now you love it?

I didn't rip it at all.. I said it doesn't deserve all 10s, I dont think any album does. I don't love it by any means, but I think it's pretty good. When did I ever say I hated it and when did I say I love it? My opinion hasn't changed, I said in my previous post that it was good, just overscored.
03:09 PM on 05/25/06
preppyak
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Originally Posted by KH_The_49th
I didn't rip it at all.. I said it doesn't deserve all 10s, I dont think any album does. I don't love it by any means, but I think it's pretty good. When did I ever say I hated it and when did I say I love it? My opinion hasn't changed, I said in my previous post that it was good, just overscored.
ah...nevermind...I misread what you said actually...I read it as "not many deserve high scores...but this does", not as "the review over-values it a bit"

my bad there...but I do disagree, I think this album deserves every high score
03:09 PM on 05/25/06
KH_The_49th
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Originally Posted by preppyak
haha...you are an idiot..you ripped the album in Tate's review of it...and now you love it?

As I quoted you in the last one (I assume before you got banned/invisibled)

As you can see I wrote in there "Cd is good".. did you read that part? I'd give it like a 7.5.. it's good.
03:10 PM on 05/25/06
preppyak
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Originally Posted by KH_The_49th
As you can see I wrote in there "Cd is good".. did you read that part? I'd give it like a 7.5.. it's good.
i caught it...read above..I misread it, it's still too early in the morning

But I'd like to know what about if you think doesn't deserve a 9...like, what would you place in that category
03:10 PM on 05/25/06
KH_The_49th
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Originally Posted by preppyak
ah...nevermind...I misread what you said actually...I read it as "not many deserve high scores...but this does", not as "the review over-values it a bit"

my bad there...but I do disagree, I think this album deserves every high score

Oh, oh.. just a misunderstanding.
03:10 PM on 05/25/06
KH_The_49th
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Originally Posted by preppyak
i caught it...read above..I misread it, it's still too early in the morning

haha, understandable
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