Review Summary: With some well-regarded singles and EPs under their belt, have Puppy lived up to expectations with their first full-length？Or have they stumbled at the first hurdle？
While ‘hyped’ may be the wrong word, a lot of people were certainly excited for the release of The Goat
– the debut album from British rockers Puppy. With some well-regarded singles and EPs under their belt, have the trio lived up to expectations with their first full-length？ Or have they stumbled at the first hurdle？
Despite it being a favourite pass-time of most music writers, Puppy is a hard band to pigeonhole. For lack of a better genre term they're an alternative rock band, but that title does little to really explain what Puppy do on The Goat
. If I tell you it's Citizen by the way of Ghost. Or goth Weezer with groove metal riffs, then you should have a better idea of what's going on.
At the core of the band's sound is a brand of 90s influenced power pop that channels the slacker vibes of Weezer and Teenage Fanclub. Surrounding this foundation of infectious fuzzed-out power chords, however, is something a little darker. There's a bubbling undercurrent of doom-swathed occultness that goes beyond the album's name and the morbid album art. From the drugged-up weirdness of the vocal lines to the obvious Black Sabbath influence in the riff writing, even the catchiest of melodies have something sinister about them.
Vocalist, guitarist and founding member, Jock Norton put it best when talking with the NME:
"We're hugely into stuff like early Ozzy Osbourne and Van Halen and things like that […] heavy music, but with songs that sound like they're written by the best pop songwriters around."
Opener Black Hole
, for instance, is as pure of a statement of purpose as you'll find. Cracking heads with a stomping groove-laden guitar riff before reaching the first chorus of the album. And what a chrous it is. An ethereal earworm of a vocal melody sitting on-top of fuzzed up chords while a tambourine shakes playfully. A stark contrast to the song's verses. Entombed
, a track originally appearing on the 2016 Vol II EP
, is another standout moment. Opening with a pummelling groove metal riff before dipping down into a sinister building verse, it is perhaps the most 'heavy metal' song of the bunch. Ironically, it may be one of the catchiest too, with stadium-sized guitar leads bolstering one of the darkest lyrically and most hypnotising choruses on the album.
It's a formula to persists throughout. Heavier, darker verses breaking out into melody focused choruses that burrow themselves into your brain after just one listen. While this has the potential to become repetitive in the hands of lesser bands, it doesn't get boring when Puppy do it. I couldn't tell you how long tracks from The Goat
have been bouncing around inside my skull. The melodic core of Puppy's sound is incredibly strong. Despite this, their doom-laden approach keeps them very much in the metal world. Just last year, the London trio played a well-received set at UK metal festival, Bloodstock. The power pop tendencies doing little to put off the more traditionally inclined crowd.
Featuring superbly crafted songwriting and enough riffs to satisfy the most demanding of metal fans, The Goat
is one that's going to be sitting on my record player for the rest of 2019.