Release Date: 4/6/06
Dog Fashion Disco’s 2006 album Adultery, a largely conceptual album, is the musical equivalent of a great horror/murder mystery movie.
While the musical and lyrical content of this album may not be for everybody, there truly is a lot to love about this album: the lyrics are vastly improved over past albums – managing to not devolve into the corny and banal, which can be easily done considering the lyrical content and story elements involved. Instead we get clever storytelling that flows logically as a story and meshes appropriately with the musical compositions. The production is excellent and the choices of instrumentation are well-chosen and vary to a great degree. The songwriting and overall flow of the album too, is superb. Their sound matured greatly between this and their previous album, 2003’s Committed to a Bright Future. Also, very few “Alternative Metal” bands have the melodic sensibilities Dog Fashion Disco does on this album. Just reference the emotional power and hook-laden vocal melodies of “The Darkest Days”, perhaps the bands greatest achievement.
While this album did take some time to grow on me, it certainly has. Remarkably so. In fact, on the first listen of this album I didn’t like it at all, which does require a bit of explanation. Unfortunately, Dog Fashion Disco’s name gets thrown around a lot when people are looking to fill the hole left by Mr. Bungle’s absence, and like too many people, this is the state of my mind I approached first listening to Dog Fashion Disco with. This isn’t fair to either band. Overall, Dog Fashion Disco’s song structure’s are of the pop format. In addition to this point, vocalist Todd Smith’s melodic sensibilities more closely align with pop music’s, disregarding the irony that Mr. Bungle have gotten far greater mainstream exposure. Mr. Bungle generally took a more haphazard, loosely structured and/or progressive approach to their songwriting. There are a couple commonalities of course: there are twists and turns, for sure – there’s a lot of variety both within and between songs. Further, Todd Smith’s vocal delivery is also highly eclectic, with an impressive vocal range where, much like Mike Patton, you can bet his entire vocal range is going to be used nearly every track. The thing is, both bands also draw influence from sounds and genre’s the other doesn’t, making both bands more fascinating and leaving plenty of room for both. I believe this long explanation necessary to align expectations here, as a lot of people who find Dog Fashion Disco are preparing themselves for disappointment. Besides, if we’re going to consider Patton-ism’s at all, I think Faith No More would be a closer comparison, but I digress..
Fortunately, something beckoned me back to this album, and quickly. I actually heard Committed To A Bright Future before this album, and hated it on first listen. After several listens though, I loved it…. this just a few days later. I still attribute my initial feelings to misaligned expectations. Regardless, my newly (and quickly) found love of Committed… naturally led to giving Adultery further listens. It took a couple months and over a dozen listens of each album, but Adultery has now far surpassed Committed… in my personal rankings and is in fact one of my all-time favorites.
As previously mentioned, the way this album flows is perfect. The relatively quiet, dark, piano-driven opening track sets the emotional and atmospheric tone of the album, which then leads brilliantly into the heaviest, most straight-forward and energetic track on the album “The Sacrifice of Miss Rose Covington”. If you don’t know what to expect by this point, prepare to be confounded further. “Silent Film” opens with a flute and horn arrangement somewhere between ’50s Noir film and carnival music, based on my limited points of reference here. The flute and horn arrangements carry throughout the song even as heavy guitars come in. Later, the song features complex, jazz-like choppy rhythm’s reminiscent of The Dillinger Escape Plan, with an admittedly Patton-esque vocal performance, and a crazy sax solo building to an incredible crescendo to end out the song.
Next, Dog Fashion Disco immediately display their melodic sensibilities by scaling it back with a simple, clean guitar passage. The siren-like synth part that plays out throughout the verses sets a fantastic atmospheric tone.
I’m not going to run down the entire track listing and ruin all the surprises, but there are also some very cool unique songs such as “Dead Virgins Don’t Sing”, with its eerie chant-like vocals, and violent, low-register dissonant, rhythmic violas and other string instruments; the beautiful sounding string arrangements in “Mature Audiences Only”… with spoken word content that few would consider beautiful; you have “Adultery”, which is straight sexy sounding; and “Moonlight City Drive” is just insanely catchy, and puts that spy film vibe on overdrive, along with “Private Eye”, of course. This band is so underrated it’s ridiculous. This album is an incredible journey in sound and storytelling.
This album was largely ignored upon its release, but fortunately has subsequently found an audience a few years after its release, which led to a couple incredible reunion shows in Dog Fashion Disco’s home city of Baltimore in 2011, of which I was an attendee. The sold out show of 1,200 remains one of my favorite performances to this day – featuring a full horn section, keyboards, samples, and guitarist Jasan Stepp busting out his cello on their corresponding tracks. I got my glasses kicked off my head during “Sweet Insanity” when it really picks up when there’s about two minutes left in the song. Miraculously, when the song ended, I found them on the floor… not destroyed. This is proof god wants us to listen to Dog Fashion Disco.
Further, they successfully crowd-funded a requested $30,000 for their 2014 album Sweet Nothings in under 24 hours, then added a stretch goal to release a second album (2015’s Ad Nauseum), which they hit by the end of the campaign, raising a total of $85,122.
Frustratingly, this album cannot be found on streaming services.